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As Football Fever Heightens, so does the Demand for Sex Trafficking

As Football Fever Heightens, so does the Demand for Sex Trafficking
Anti-trafficking campaigns like this, are working to increase awareness. Local soccer stars are also to be used in a massive safe sex campaign launched by the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development (All Africa).

As the count down to FIFA’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa begins to draw nearer and nearer, increased preparations have gone into full speed, including preparing for increased  sex trafficking.  The South African government expects around half a million visitors to the country. The country is receiving increased attention regarding levels of sex work, as the preparation as the host country of the 2010 FIFA World Cup intensifies. The true spotlight of the anxiety is over increased HIV transmission due to the increased demand for sex workers, which has also sparked debate and concerns regarding the context and legality of sex industry.

Worries of increased trafficking for the World Cup are nothing new, they were of grave concern during the 2006 World Cup in Germany and will be of concern in those to follow.  These concerns however are not exaggerated nor to be easily dismissed. The increased levels of  sex work and trafficking, look to lure an increase of victims from neighboring countries, as well as eastern Europe.

Fears of increased human trafficking during the World Cup prompted the Salvation Army to launch a toll-free hotline, which was launched in Johannesburg on 27 January 2010, to take tips and assist victims of human trafficking in the country. The initiative is a joint project between The Salvation Army and BE HEARD, an organization with ten years experience in operating anonymous tip-off services. The number – 0800-RESCUE or 08000-737283 – is expected to operate 24 hours a day and will have operators answering calls in a multitude of languages.

“We don’t want to create a hype around 2010 but we fear it [human trafficking] will increase for purposes of commercial sex work,” said Major Marike Venter, national coordinator of the Salvation Army anti trafficking task team (iol).

The Salvation Army estimates that, every year some 450,000 are trafficking out of Africa and that there are over 50,000 prostituted children in South Africa alone (SA Good News). The prolonged five-week school break which is to occur in the midst of the World Cup increases the vulnerability of children, leading to increased recruitment into child prostitution rings and leave thousands of children victimized by human trafficking.

However what seems to have more people running scared is the fear of increased HIV transmissions, which has led to a multitude of campaigns to increase awareness on safe sex and condom distribution. Earlier this week Britain stated that it would give 42 million condoms to South Africa after a request for an extra billion from the country, who has established an HIV prevention specifically for the World Cup.
An estimated 5.7 million South Africans currently living with HIV, about one in every five adults, the country is the  undisputed leader of HIV race with 1,400 new HIV infections each year and nearly 1,000 Aids deaths every day. Many believe that the increased engagement in commercial sexual exploitation will only cause “a potential HIV time-bomb”. (Gaurdian)

Therefore it seems clear that while efforts are being made to increase awareness about human trafficking in South Africa and across the globe for the World Cup, it is also apparent that much needs to be done. The country still lacks in adequate laws and services that protect victims and survivors or prosecute those who prey on them. While true sex trafficking will undoubtedly increase during the World Cup, as it does with any event of such scale, this is not South Africa’s problem, but a global problem and we must continue to raise awareness, strengthen legislation and address demand on a global scale.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict