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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stop Selling Women's Bodies.

It is estimated that the number of women being trafficked into Germany to be used as prostitutes will increase massively in the run-up to the World Cup there in June. This is an appalling indictment of a European country's treatment of women - indicated, however, by the fact that brothels are legal there. Legitimising sexual exploitation of women and girls in this way suggests already a poor view of, and abusive treatment of women.

With the expected influx of mainly male football supporters, it looks likely that there will be an increase in 'demand' which can only be met through trafficking women from other countries. This trade in, and selling of women's bodies must be stopped, and the European Women's Lobby have set up a petition you can sign.

The text of the petition is:

800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year

90% are women and girls.

The majority are sexually exploited.

Dear President Barroso,

Thousands of women and girls will be trafficked into Germany for prostitution during the World Cup.

I urge you as President of the European Commission to take action, in cooperation with EU countries, to stop this crime.

Celebrate the World Cup.

Fight sexual slavery.

And you can sign it here. Please do so!

Prostitution during World Cup is a whole new ball game.
From Melanie Haape in Berlin

GERMAN cities are building mobile brothels and installing huge numbers of condom dispensers in the run-up to an expected boom in the sex business during the upcoming World Cup.

It’s thought up to 40,000 prostitutes will be brought into the country to augment the thousands already at work to service the needs of some of the estimated seven million chiefly male fans as they pour into the country from June 9.

Meanwhile, women’s activist groups have seized the occasion to highlight the problem of human trafficking and forced prostitution, especially of girls from eastern and central Europe.

Justice officials hotly dispute the 40,000 figure, however. Munich central police’s Andreas Ruch reckons it’s “been plucked from the air”.

“We know from the Oktoberfest, which has six million visitors, that the number of prostitutes increases, but we honestly don’t expect a mass invasion.”

Germany legalised prostitution in 2002, and the Bavarian capital has 500 registered sex workers. Ruch estimates that there are an extra 200 illegally plying their trade. “We expect the number to perhaps double during the World Cup, and while we do see the number of those coming from eastern Europe growing, this is a general tendency in many professions,” he said.

Berlin, which has up to 8000 registered prostitutes, is gearing up for strict controls during the tournament, said criminal department spokeswoman Kerstin Menzel.

“During big sports events in the past, we haven’t seen a major upsurge in prostitution-related criminality, but we are definitely putting in stronger controls in certain areas of the city which we know are troublesome. We’re also working with non-government organisations,” she said, adding that she couldn’t imagine that as many as 40,000 extra prostitutes would flood the city.

Nevertheless, to augment the city’s existing array of bordellos, three train stops from the main Berlin stadium a new structure covering 3000 square metres is being built to accommodate 640 customers at a time. Cologne has also built provisional brothels, and Dortmund plans to follow suit.

Hamburg’s famous Reeperbahn red-light district, meanwhile, hopes to use the World Cup to polish up its tatty image with its campaign “fairness in sex”. Brothels are co-operating in a plan to reduce complaints against dishonest money-grabbing practices on the part of the prostitutes.

There is no central strategy to control the problem of girls being smuggled into the country, or brought in under false pretences and then forced to offer sex-related services. Instead, each of the 16 states (Länder) is responsible for its own law enforcement. This is not enough for the Deutscher Frauenrat, the national women’s council which represents more than 50 women’s organisations nationwide.

A spokeswoman said: “After seeking role models and support for our campaign among the entire German football team, so far we have managed to get support only from Jens Lehmann who is also goalkeeper for the English club Arsenal. Others like Oliver Kahn have stayed silent, so we’re not only disappointed but really angry.” The council’s pleas to the football stars stated that as an example for many men, the stars’ word sometimes counts more than that of politicians.

“Therefore we ask you to state publicly that ‘real’ men are against human trafficking and forced prostitution,” wrote council head Henny Engels.

The EU has the issue on the agenda for its plenary session starting on March 13, said Anna Wittenberg, assistant to European Parliament member Lissy Gröner, also on the Women’s Committee in the EU. Wittenberg added that Germany’s state heads and police are now being pushed to improve controls on visa issuing, for example.

The European parliament reckons that almost 90% of the 500,000 people smuggled illegally into the EU are trapped into sexual exploitation. Hungarian translator Nico Anastasio, who has assisted in a number of trafficking cases , said: “The problem is that they seldom report their abuse as they are usually here illegally .”

26 February 2006

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Anonymous said...

Can I sign that petition even though I don't live in the UK? This might be a stupid question, but I am and have been incensed by human trafficking in the sex trade for quite some time.

Unknown said...

As far as I know, the petition can be signed by anyone, so go for it :)