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Report Says Child Prostitution Rampant in Mauritius

By Nasseem Ackbarally, Panafrican News Agency, 9 October 2000

Port Louis, Mauritius - The Mauritian government has released the 1998 report on child prostitution, indicating that girls of aged between 11 and 13 years are being forced into prostitution in several regions, including the island of Rodrigues, a dependency of Mauritius.

UNICEF and the WHO financed the report, which was prepared by the firm, Coopers and Lybrand.

The facts of the report were based on evidence collected in the field from prostitutes, clients, procurers, taxi-drivers and dealers.

"I am really shocked and surprised how the prostitution network is well-structured," said Adrianne Navarre-Marie, minister for women's affairs and child welfare.

According to the report, the network functions as institutions, which take care of the young girls who come from poor families, or from separated parents.

It added that some of them come from colleges of good reputation also.

Most of the time, the parents themselves give away their young daughters to the prostitution network, the report observes.

It says in many cases, the money collected by the young prostitutes represents the only source of income for the poor families.

Others who are better off - college-going students - ask for trips to big hotels and even to the nearby island of La Reunion or shoes and clothes for the sexual services they render.

According to the report, the clients of these children are men above the age of forty.

"These include lawyers, members of Parliament, ministers and personalities of the trade and industry world," the report indicated, but felt short of mentioning names.

"It's a new page that opens on child prostitution in Mauritius," the minister said, warning, "we will take action against those involved in this trade."