4 Feb 2009

Samoa to discourae child lei sellers

3:39 pm on 4 February 2009

Samoa's Victim Support Group says new research shows young children selling leis, or flower necklaces, in the streets of Apia at night time are from one village.

A group of children from Tufulele is regularly congregating around hotels, night clubs and restaurants selling garlands of flowers parents make during the day.

Samoa Victim Support Group spokesman Masoe Iosefa Tautua says with the help of the Ministry of Justice they have to raise more awareness of the practise in a bid to eliminate it.

He says children shouldn't be made to work let alone roam the streets at night when it is unsafe.

And in a few cases, he says, some are starting to commit small crimes.

"They are ranging from the age of 8 up to 16 or 17. And they are doing it for a living, meaning that the families, the parents are involved. It's just a very serious issue, those children roaming around at night time in front of the nightclubs, selling leis."

Dubbed Operation Night Lei, Masoe Iosefa Tautua says the organisation is targeting parents and families of these children at village level.

He says placing orders directly with the families and encouraging local businesses in Apia to do the same can also keep children off the streets late at night.