A survey in Fiji has found that 33 percent of women engaged in the sex trade are school students.
The survey was carried out by the Save the Children Fund (SCF) whose director of programmes, Margaret Logavatu said many of these students are those from outer islands sent to Suva for education. The non-governmental organisation was shocked by the survey. Save the Children is the world’s largest independent global movement for children.
Save the Children Fiji has discovered that the more tourists come into the country, the greater the chances are of local children being sexually exploited.
In the analysis on commercial sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children in Fiji, SCF National Director, Irshad Ali, said children take advantage of the industry to fend for themselves. "Also we were more surprised to see the tactics and the techniques used and our local people engaged in activities and exploitation of children in many forms," he added.
According to Ali it is crucial to train service providers in the industry on issues and occurrence of commercial sexual exploitation of children. He said that would enable people, especially hotel staff who deal day to day with tourists, to identify risk factors, behaviour and develop policies for the protection of children.
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre has called for immediate action by schools and responsible authorities to stop the practice.
Religious groups such as the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Fiji Muslim League have expressed alarm at the results of the survey and called for the eradication of the problem.
A large percentage of all of the tourism into Fiji is provided by Australia. Most international flights come from Australia, much of the marketing of the Fijian tourist industry is done in Australia and many Australians have taken up residence in Fiji.
The Republic of the Fiji Islands in western South Pacific has more than 840,000 inhabitants. Fiji has a relatively young population with about 53% or 413,100 persons below the age of 25 years. Fifty-three per cent of the population are Christian (largely Methodist [80%], Roman Catholics [10%], Anglicans, Pentecostals and Seventh-day Adventists [3,5%]), 38 per cent are Hindu, 8 per cent Muslim and 0.7 per cent Sikhs,