10 Feb 2005

Solomons nun concerned at social impact of logging firms

9:47 am on 10 February 2005

A Solomon Islands nun, who treats victims of sexual abuse in conjunction with UNICEF, is concerned at the social impact of Malaysian logging companies on the island of Makira.

Sister Doreen, of the Church of Melanesia, says on Makira she knows of girls as young as 13 cohabiting with the loggers.

Sister Doreen says some of girls married the loggers but were abandoned when the loggers would move to the next village.

She says the girls' families often agree to the liaisons, because of promises that the loggers will build them permanent houses.

"One of the things that those Malaysian people promise people is that, O.K, I will build you a proper house - provide you with a permanent building, and people would like to live in a permanent building because they are sick of having to redo the sago palms."

Sister Doreen says she's asked police to step in, but has been advised that if the girls are "of age", or have the approval of their parents, police can't interfere.