Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Game of Shame

The 2010 FIFA World Cup (FWC) in South Africa is expected to generate more than $5 billion, the highest revenue in World Cup history, raising concerns of a likely increase in abuse, exploitation, trafficking of women and children.

International sporting events like the World Cup can affect human trafficking; contributing to short-term increases in demand for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. Global sporting spectacles can facilitate the entry of trafficked persons, as visitor’s transit to other cities and countries where they are likely to be exploited.

Prostitution is illegal but Sex trafficking is big business in Southern Africa. With over 35,000 child prostitutes; South Africa now boasts one of the top countries in Africa in people trafficking. Trafficked girls are easily intermingled amongst local prostitutes. Recent estimated suggest that up to 1000 Mozambican girls are trafficked into Johannesburg each year. To be sold as sex slaves or as wives to miners.

South Africa shares a porous border with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland; making it easy for people to come in and out without being detected. This problem is compounded by the lack of adequately trained employees, resulting in few police officials controlling large portions of the country's borders and coastlines.

People trafficking in South Africa are linked with the highly sophisticated global sex industry. Despite these urgent issues, South Africa has no public services specifically designed to assist victims of trafficking. Victims of International cross border sex trade are usually afraid of law enforcement officials. They do not trust the police to assist them’ especially as they can be persecuted are likely to be deported as illegal immigrants.

South Africa is unable to provide adequate protection and assistance to its victims. Children are seen as cheap labour by traffickers. They can be forced to work in unhealthy and dangerous conditions that could lead to their deaths.

These games will provide much excitement for viewers all over the world. But in the shadows and murky world of sexual exploitation; the World Cup provides opportunities for abusers, exploiters and traffickers to meet the increased demand for cheap labour and sexual services.

This trend can only be reduced by greater awareness by all stake holders; and a genuine step-up by law enforcement officials to help protect vulnerable women and children.