Wednesday, 18 February 2009 4:54 AM

Women's Centre Reveals Girls Sold as Wives in Rural Fiji

The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre (FWCC) has revealed that young girls are being sold or given away as wives in some rural parts of the country mostly as a result of poverty.

According to the report by Fijilive, the Centre revealed that there have been incidences where parents have either married off their under-age daughters or just given them away.

The report quotes FWCC Director, Shameema Ali, telling Fijilive "we have come across cases, mostly in Vanua Levu, where parents out of extreme poverty have forced their daughters to marry older men".
"Some of these girls are forced and some do it willingly to get out of the cycle of poverty," she said.

"There was another case in Ra province, where a body of a 15-year-old girl was found in a sack. She had been hacked into pieces. What we believe is that the girl was sold to an older man by her defacto husband and she became a victim of a violent relationship".

"Such practices are happening but the attention is on the urban areas so these places get forgotten and things that happen in such communities do not often surface."

Attributing these incidents to poverty, lack of education and the political situation in the country, Ms. Ali said, "Also there needs to be an attempt to educate boys on how to treat girls especially in places where tradition and culture are very prominent".

"Although the government has made education compulsory for all in Fiji, there is no policing done to ensure that this actually happens in the rural communities. The State has to play a bigger part. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming like Bangladesh or Thailand, where the sex trade is part of everyday life."