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VANUATU – Tour operators in Vanuatu have rallied in support of a woman abducted and assaulted over the weekend for criticising the behaviour of some public transport providers in Port Vila.

A spokesperson for the initiative says more than US$270 is being presented by the Port Vila Tour operators association this afternoon to Florence Lengkon to assist with her medical bills, counselling and any time she needs to take off work.

Adrian Mooney of Adventures in Paradise said the money, which was raised from takings made during Wednesday’s visit of the Princess Dawn, will be matched dollar for dollar by cruise line operators Carnival Australia and Princess Cruises.

“We have raised 300,000 vatu and we are still collecting on her behalf but we will be presenting her with that cheque this afternoon and in conjunction with the hotel director from the Pacific Pearl which is in port today and also John Tonner who is the owner of South Sea Shipping, the port agency,” said Adrian Mooney.

Meanwhile, women in Vanuatu are planning a protest march next week to call for an end to violence against women in the country after Lengkon was beaten and abused for expressing her views in a public forum on Facebook.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Port Vila, Leimara Malachai, said the protest was planned for next Wednesday to coincide with the first sitting of the country’s new parliament.

Malachai said hundreds of men and women from the private, public and informal sector as well churches will march along the Port Vila seafront to parliament.

“We have three or four petitions to forward to the minister of internal affairs so that the minister of internal affairs will work on it and we will see how it will go.”

Malachi said the petitions called for, among other things, a holistic approach to ending violence against women and ensuring the punishment of those involved in the abduction and beating of Florence Lengkon on the weekend.

In the post for which she was targeted, Lengkon criticised the arrogant and unprofessional behaviour of public transport providers who have been squabbling over fares for tourists arriving on cruise ships in Port Vila.