Foreign Correspondent Papua Peril


Most Australian journalists who report from Papua have to do it illegally - the Indonesian government hardly ever grants access because of fears they'll draw attention to the independence war.

So other serious issues like HIV/AIDS simply go unreported. Helen Vatsikopoulos and Foreign Correspondent producers spent months persuading officials that the problem is so grave that it deserves international attention, and they were given rare permission to make this moving story.

It's believed that there are now many more HIV positive housewives in the province than sex workers. Vatsikopoulos meets Wilhemina Sawaki, whose husband Emil died from AIDS contracted from sex workers. Wilhemina didn't realize that her husband was a regular patron of brothels near the Freeport gold and copper mine where he worked.

Although Indonesian authorities claim to have sex worker infection rates under control, Foreign Correspondent speaks to two sex workers who are HIV positive and don't reveal this to their clients. One sex worker admits she doesn't use condoms and doesn't care who she infects.

Agus Alua of the Papuan People's Council claims

"We have some experience and indication that a lot of Papuans are dying everywhere because of the incidence of HIV AIDS. "This is a kind of business because behind this we have, illegal logging, illegal mining, illegal fishing. And all this business brings prostitute women into Papua."

Vatsikopulous: "So who organises the prostitution in these areas?

Alua: "It cannot survive without any support by military or police, never"

This story will got to air on Tuesday 1st April at 9.30 presented by Mark Corcoran ..