Sex trade at the World Cup

The World Cup kicks off in exactly 7 days, and hundreds of thousands of football fans will descend on South Africa to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime event.

However, where there are tourists looking to have a good time, there are also underlying problems. We had some experience of this in Germany 2006 but South Africa 2010 is a different beast, with far less regulation and more health risks as a result.

Two years ago we spoke here on Soccerlens about legalising prostitution in South Africa (just for the World Cup) to help the authorities regulate the trade and work to eliminate the risks involved. It engendered serious debate, and still proves to be a hot topic.

Today, with the world having caught up on the fact that the World Cup is finally happening, many activists are worried unregulated trafficked prostitution rings will be a problem and could spread HIV.

Here’s an excerpt from a story in The Daily Beast:

Lack of economic alternatives led many women in underdeveloped South Africa to enter prostitution, said Skinner. And in recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of women flocking from the poor countryside, and from neighboring Zimbabwe, to South African cities to make money as prostitutes during the World Cup, which begins on June 11 and lasts a month. An estimated 350,000 foreigners will visit South Africa for the cup.

“Stop 2010 Human Trafficking”a project organized by a non-profit Christian alliance in South Africa, warned this week that as many as 100,000 women could fall victim to traffickers during the World Cup. Activists also worry that the cup might contribute to the existing—serious—problem of trafficking of under-age girls for prostitution in the country. Already, many women and girls have been lured into prostitution for the cup by false promises of employment as tour guides or waitresses, or have been kidnapped by trafficking rings, anti-trafficking activists say.

For under-aged girls trafficked into prostitution during the World Cup, AIDS and tuberculosis is “the end-game for those children”said Skinner, adding that an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 of the prostitutes for the games will be girls under 18.

Read the full story here.

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