NEWS

11-Year-Old Girl, Youngest Known Victim Of Sex Trafficking In Fiji: Homes of Hope

Tells how they are rehabilitating her with 19 others who’ve faced similar realities.
31 Jul 2020 10:51
11-Year-Old Girl, Youngest Known Victim Of Sex Trafficking In Fiji: Homes of Hope

A girl as young as 11 years-old is among sexual exploitation and human trafficking victims in Fiji who is being rehabilitated at the Homes of Hope in Wailoku, Suva.

This was revealed by the Home’s Social Services Team Leader, Inieta Benaca, during the United Nations World Day against Human Trafficking in Persons commemorated at the Holiday Inn hotel in Suva yesterday.

Ms Benaca said the home rehabilitates, counsels and looks after victims of this offence until such time they can enter back into society without stigma.

Sexual exploitation

“The 11-year-old was a victim of sexual exploitation and she was also trafficked by her own relatives who were transporting her to other venues for sexual purposes,” she said.

“We have cases of girls who have been trafficked and all other forms of sexual exploitations.

“The vision of Homes of Hope is to create a culture of freedom where women and children are free from the cycles in stigma for sex.

“When I say for sex it could mean incest, rape, commercial sexual exploitations and all forms of sexual exploitations.”

She said the age range for those who are currently at the home are from 18 to 25 years-old.

However, they had also received cases for those who were below the age of 18 and who had been referred from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Police.

The home looks after 20 women with their children.

“In the recent years, something we have experienced at the care shelter is not only an increase in the number of victims, but the ages of the victims keep getting lower in terms of those who had been sexually exploited.

“As a social worker at the Homes of Hope, the challenges we face is dealing with the trauma, we have to be trauma informed and see things from their lenses while dealing with these issues.”

From left: Pastor Mark Roche, Head of the EU Delegation to the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, Permanent Secretary Defence, National Security and Policing, Manasa Lesuma and Hassan El Maaroufi. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

From left: Pastor Mark Roche, Head of the EU Delegation to the Pacific, Sujiro Seam, Permanent Secretary Defence, National Security and Policing, Manasa Lesuma and Hassan El Maaroufi. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Rehabilitation

She said there were training and education opportunities provided at the centre that were of much needed help in the women’s rehabilitation process.

“At the home we do not only provide shelter, we have what we call hard skilled training and soft skill training, we have training facilities and five labs,” she said.

“A bakery for learning baking skills. We have a small sewing lab where they touch on sewing skills and also a guest house for housekeeping.

“We have an organic farm, we graze livestock, a piggery, a fish pond and a chicken coop.”

Yesterday, Homes of Hope and the International Organisation of Migration launched a two-year project called ‘Empowering Fijian Civil Society in Countering Trafficking in Human Beings’.

The two-year project will aim to collaboratively prevent, suppress and eradicate trafficking against women and children in Fiji.

It will also seek to assist in the production of timely data on the issue for various organisations to work with.

Ms Benaca said while it was against their internal policy to reveal certain details and specifics of the victims currently rehabilitated, she could confirm that the numbers of sexual exploitation and human trafficking recorded locally were increasing every year.

Head of the EU Delegation to the Pacific, Sujiro Seam (sitting fourth from left), Permanent Secretary Defence, National Security and Policing, Manasa Lesuma (sitting fifth from left) with participants of the United Nations World Day Againist Trafficking in Persons at the Holiday Inn on July 30, 2020. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Head of the EU Delegation to the Pacific, Sujiro Seam (sitting fourth from left), Permanent Secretary Defence, National Security and Policing, Manasa Lesuma (sitting fifth from left) with participants of the United Nations World Day Againist Trafficking in Persons at the Holiday Inn on July 30, 2020. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Edited By Raboba Baoa

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj

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