BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
A United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) report highlighted youth unemployment in Solomon Islands is associated with the risk of exploitation.
UNDP’s Solomon Islands Youth Status Report 2018 said youth unemployment is associated with the risk of exploitation – particularly sexual exploitation of young girls around logging and mining camps and foreign fishing vessels.
The findings were compiled from a research carried out in eight provinces across Solomon Islands.
According to the report, Honiara’s street prostitution often involves young women who have experienced abuse at home, while prostitution at hotels and bars involves both local and Asian migrant women.
In the meantime, the report said it is unclear if these trades also include young boys but investigation and prosecution of the sex trade is rare in the country.
However, first case of human trafficking involving a young girl married to a foreign logger was brought before court in September 2017.
Regarding the issues, Government and group of NGOs in the country has been working on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with aim to address the risk of exploitation.
Now, only Save the Children and UNICEF are actively working on prevention through awareness and child protection programme locally, while the ILO builds capacity through its Pacific Sub Regional Child Labor and Trafficking Program
At the government level, the Advisory Committee on Children informs Cabinet and coordinates the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has pointed to several inconsistencies on minimum ages that could be changed to reflect international standards—the minimum age of criminal responsibility is just 8 years old, employment 12 and marriage 15.
Furthermore with the report it stated lack of adequate opportunities for young people to participate in the informal and formal economy makes lasting peace harder to sustain.
This includes young men who lack direction more prone to recruitment by militant or criminal groups – as happened during the tensions, it said.
Besides, the report also highlighted that Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Study found a correlation between male unemployment and violence against women.
Lack of employment and livelihood opportunities affects many young people’s sense of self-worth and their ability to participate in social, community and political life.
In Honiara, while there are regulations that set aside certain sectors such as transport for indigenous small businesses, the entry of Asian migrants and their subsequent scapegoating for broader governance failures is also creating a potential security risk.