31 Jul 2007

Solomons study finds child sex problems at logging camps

1:58 pm on 31 July 2007

More than 70 children are reported to have been sexually exploited by workers at logging camps in Solomon Islands' Makira Province.

The Church of Melanesia's Christian Care Centre compiled the study, which took in 12 villages in the Arosi region, close to adjoining logging camps.

A clinical psychologist, Dr Tania Herbert, says there were 12 reports of children being sold into marriages by their parents or entering into early marriages, a range of sexual abuse cases, and pornography was a problem.

But, Dr Herbert says the most prominent type of exploitation was that of prostitution, making up more than half the cases.

"That was children ranging from age 11 to 19 with most of the children being aged 13 to 15. So, sometimes the children themselves were visiting the camps and exchanging sex for money, or other goods like rice or noodles or chewing gum, things like that. And, sometimes it was the parents who were organising for the children to go there."

Dr Herbert says copies of the report are being sent to the logging companies involved but she says they won't be named because of concerns that the victims could be traced.

She says there have been some changes since their team visited, including one village imposing a ban on children going to the camps and some of the girls refusing to participate.