Fiji – Religious leaders disagree on call to legalise prostitution

Two senior ministers in Fiji’s Methodist Church have different views about a suggestion that the government  legalise prostitution.

Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, the incoming president of the Church, is opposed to any move to legalise prostitution while Reverend Tevita Nawadra, who replaces him as general secretary, says he is in favour

“Personally and, I think, the position of the church that we do not support the legalisation of prostitution is simply because it contradicts with the laws of the Ten Commandments that ‘thou shall not commit adultery’,”  Waqairatu said.

Nawadra says he supports any move to legalise prostitution “because it will be overwhelming for those who suffer from HIV/AIDS”.

Vijendra Prakas, the the national secretary of Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha, the largest Hindu organisation in the country, is opposed to any call to legalise prostitution.

Prakash said the Sabha taught its followers moral values based on religious texts for balanced behaviour and the idea of legalising sex work contradicted the teachings.

Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there  are no plans to legalise prostitution in Fiji.

He said a statement by Acting Permanent Secretary for Health Doctor Joe Koroivueta that a change to the Crimes Decree was being contemplated is incorrect.

Previously, in a World AIDS Day press conference at Government House Koroivueta had said that they were looking legalise prostitution.

“For many years sex work has been regarded as illegal in the country,” he said.

“We need to address this so that sex workers do not face discrimination.”

Koroivueta said Fiji was working towards a human rights-based approach and discrimination against sex workers contravenes human rights.

“We have a HIV/AIDS Decree that is human rights based and does not discriminate.”

Koroivueta said the new legislation for sex workers would be in compliance with the HIV/AIDS Decree and totally based on human rights principles and should be ready by next year.

Last year a report by Australian researchers claimed the Fiji Government was concerned about the growth of the sex industry, and had rounded up sex workers, taken them to a military barracks and forced them to squat and do duck-walks and roll in mud.

The report said some practices “amount to torture”, including publicly shaming the women and subjecting them to sleep deprivation. One of the women said the abuse made her feel she was “somewhere like Hotel Rwanda”.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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