Stop sex work

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai.

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, has called on the government to end commercial sex work in Samoa.

He has also strongly criticised plans by the Ministry of Health to offer educational and counseling services to “commercial sex workers” as part of a bid to promote healthy living.

 “Samoa is a Christian state and the sexual activity procuring money should not be allowed in our country,” said Olo. 

“What hypocrites. Samoa was recently declared a Christian country and yet they are offering services to prostitutes. Is this a joke?”

Last month, the Ministry of Health said it wanted to educate and counsel “commercial sex workers.” 

The plan is revealed in a 98-page National HIV, AIDS, and S.T.I Policy 2017-2022 report, obtained by the Samoa Observer. 

Earlier this year, the Samoa Observer revealed that the number of female sex workers in Samoa was estimated at around 400. 

It was also revealed that most women are doing sex work for economic reasons. The age during which some of them begin sex work ranges from 13 to 21 years old. 

The commercial sex workers came under the prevention segment of the M.O.H. Policy report, which indicates that services are available to promote safer sex practices. 

 “Information Education Communication (I.E.C) and counseling services shall be made free of stigma and at no cost to commercial sex workers in order to enable them to adopt safer sexual practices,” the report reads. 

According to Olo, the government needs to find sex workers and offer them employment opportunities. 

“The Ministry of Health are encouraging them by providing counseling and education for them to have protected sex using the condoms they are distributing publicly. 

“But what about giving them a solid solution and making sure these girls refrain from doing this permanently, by giving them jobs? 

“According to a recent report an estimated 400 sex workers are in Samoa. What is the government doing about it? Nothing. And they are just offering them sex education and condoms?

“Why are these women in this position? The reason is very clear, it’s due to economic reasons. These girls are forced into this lifestyle.”

He believes the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the government. 

Olo also pointed out the amendments that need to be made in the law to reflect that Samoa is a Christian State.

“The government should also revise the local laws that coincide with the reality of Samoa being a Christian State, in terms of law enforcement against the Sodom and Gomorrah lifestyle found in our Country,” said Olo Fiti. 

He told the Samoa Observer, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Police should not sit idle on this issue. 

“The A.G. is the one who supported Samoa becoming a Christian State, he should also look at the local law banning prostitution activity in Samoa. 

“We hear it here and there, it does exist, what is the government doing about it… nothing. 

“The Ministry of Police should be concerned about this and investigate them, after all this is the government report in which they should take serious and do their mandates in accordance to the law and investigate and look for where the prostitution activities are located and raid those places.”

According to the Pacific Multi-country Mapping and Behavioral Study 2016, most women are doing sex work for economic reasons. The age during which some of them begin sex work range from 13 to 21 years old.

The report was rubbished by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi who laughed at claims that poverty and hardship are to blame for the growing number of sex workers in Samoa. 

Tuilaepa 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.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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