‘Desperation drives women to sex work’

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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POLITICAL VIEWS: Olo Fiti Vaai and P.M. Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

POLITICAL VIEWS: Olo Fiti Vaai and P.M. Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

The lack of employment opportunities has forced more than 400 women in Samoa to turn to prostitution.

And Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai blames the government for ignoring the unemployment problem for far too long.

 “There are no employment options,” he told the Samoa Observer. “I’m sorry to say but there is no other option for these girls. 

 “I know for a fact this is happening and I see these girls near the compounds where there are foreign workers.” 

Olo told the Samoa Observer his heart goes out to these young women.  

“There are no jobs available, the government has not followed their word in creating job opportunities for the youth and this is the result of desperation,” he said. 

The Member of Parliament said the government should be held accountable for their failure to address the issue.

Accoring to the Multi-country Mapping and Behavioural study 2016, quoted by the Ministry of Health in their sixth annual report to UNAIDS, it says that in 2016, the number of female sex workers in Samoa was estimated at around 400. 

The age during which some of them began sex work ranged from 13 to 21 years old. 

“Most women are doing sex work for economic reasons. Payment varies considerably from $50 to $200 tala," the report reads.  

“These women have a wide range of clients, including local and foreign men and 58.3% had children and the majority had no other employment.”

 The study was the work of the U.N.D.P, U.N.I.C.E.F and the University of New South Wales which called for urgent need for reforms in Pacific island countries to adequately address HIV and sexually transmitted infections (S.T.Is) among vulnerable populations. 

It examined the behaviour risk factors and social and structural determinants of risk that drive the epidemic among vulnerable groups, such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and seafarers. Samoa was among nine countries the Study covered. 

Olo believes the government should address this issue immediately.

 “The government should correct these mistakes as this should never happen in Samoa,” he said. 

“The truth is, there are not enough job, most of the College graduates upon return cannot find employment. 

“While some of these college graduates have already attained employment but it’s not what they went to school for. They are working for a totally different field and they settle for what is available to them.” 

Olo accused the government of being hypocritical.

 “The government has been singing about creating more jobs for the youth, but nothing and this is the end result. Out of desperation these girls turn to do what is wrong, because they are poor, they need the money.”

Last month when P.M Tuilaepa was asked about the issue, he laughed at claims that poverty and hardship are to blame. He has also attacked the “newspaper” over its coverage of the issue describing the reporting as “rubbish.”

“If that is true then you shouldn’t find that in America, the wealthiest country in the world, yet there are a lot of women like that in America,” Tuilaepa said. 

 “That’s where it’s wrong; you can’t control this type of behavior.” 

Tuilaepa then had a go at the “newspaper.”

 “I know the newspaper is trying hard,” he said laughing.

 “It doesn’t matter how far off the issue is, they always try to pull it towards my doorstep. They blame me as the reason for everything.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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