8 Mar 2007

Kiribati government takes steps to stem problem of girls selling themselves for sex

2:43 pm on 8 March 2007

The Kiribati government is taking steps to stem the ongoing problem of young girls going on board Korean fishing vessels and selling themselves for sex.

The senior woman development officer at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Aren Teannaki, says they have talked to the girls and highlighted the problem of HIV/AIDS and asked them to use condoms.

But, she says the girls, many of whom come from the outer islands, are more interested in having a good time and partying than listening to health messages.

The HIV/AIDS taskforce says there are up to 80 to 100 girls active on the docks, some as young as 13 or 14

Ms Teannaki says they lack the resources and expertise to tackle the problem but they are trying.

"Right now, the government is trying to raise awareness on HIV, and then we have this youth taskforce that would go out to these young girls and talk to them informally in nightclubs, and they would invite them to their youth centre but you know, we really can't force anyone to, - yes, of course we'll listen to you and we'll do that."

Ms Teannaki says Korean officials need to provide more assistance and perhaps talk to the men onboard the vessels.

Korea's National Youth Commission has twice visited Kiribati over the issue and provided 4,000 U.S. dollars to hold a workshop.