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2006 World Cup/Germany: Analysis of Pre-Games Global Anti-Sex Trafficking Activism

In Did you know?... on May 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM

The upcoming World Cup Soccer championship has generated widespread concern among some NGOs and governments over the potential for increased human trafficking in Germany surrounding the games. Germany has legalized prostitution. The US government opposes prostitution and any related activities, including pimping, pandering, and/or maintaining brothels as contributing to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons. These activities are inherently harmful and dehumanizing.’(1)

– US State Department, Trafficking in persons report, 5 June 2006

With the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa just around the corner and surge in illegal Sex Trafficking of women and children by global criminal syndicates widely reported over the past several months, it is beneficial to take a look back at Germany during the year, months and weeks leading up to the 2006 World Cup. The national economic, social, political, and security conditions that made Germany ripe for illegal Sex Trafficking are strikingly similar to current day South Africa.

Historical research reveals a litany of global activism around fears of forced prostitution or sex slavery around the 2006 World Cup. What is most compelling is the broad spectrum of individuals, parliamentary leaders, nationalities, political and government parties, press agencies/journalists, ethic groups, religious organizations, and enforcement agencies that put aside differences in a seamless, urgent and consolidated ethical movement against Sex Trafficking leading up to the 2006 games.

On 14 December 2005 German Green MEP, Hiltrud Beyer in partnership with Austrian socialist colleague Christa Prets used the platform of the European Parliament to make the first public announcement on the potential scourge of Sex Trafficking during the 2006 World Cup. Afterwards, trafficking became the dominant topic of March 2006 International Women’s Day in Brussels.(2) Among the global high ranking government figures to follow suit demonstrated by the President’s full backing, The Bush Administration took a firm and decisive stand against Sex Trafficking. At the time John Miller was the head of the US State Department’s Human Trafficking Office.

Germany had legalized prostitution in December 2001. In the months leading up to the games media reports typically highlighted the development of innovative facilities to cater to the potential desires of an estimated 3 to 4 million men eager to lay with prostitutes. “Performance boxes” resembling toilets in design were build, equipped with condoms and showers. In 2001 Cologne opened the world’s first drive-in brothel. Berlin built Pascha; a 3,000 square meter, 650 customer capacity “mega-brother” next to the main World Cup stadium.(3)

The major concern among established human rights organizations was the disproportionate ratio between man and available prostitutes. To this end, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), based in London, launched a global campaign. The organization identified a sex worker gap based on a study of the number of women needed to fill the additional brothers set up. An estimated additional 40,000 (illegal) prostitutes would be required. The focus of their campaign involved raising awareness of women and children being “imported”  into Germany from Eastern and Central Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. (4)

The new freedoms offered by the opening of the EU’s borders, however limited they may be, have given millions of Eastern Europeans the chance of trying a new life – and many are taking the opportunity to experiment with how they live. Yet across the world, there are those who seek to turn both the freedom provided by open borders and the fun of a World Cup tournament into a nightmare vision of sexual abuse and exploitation. That really is perverse. (5)

– Burno Waterfield, 22 June 2006

There were stories of sex workers in other regions of Europe gravitating to Germany for the World Cup. Others would “voluntarily” submit to prostitution in order to feed a drug habit, pay off debts, or improve the lives of their families in the home country.

At times under the guise of “All Expense Paid Trip” and “Dancers Needed – Excellent Pay”, thousands of women and girls were lured to the World Cup under false pretense. Many were blatantly kidnapped, smuggled across boarders, and forced into sex slavery.  The accounts of these women and girls speak of servicing 40 or more men a day, 16 hour shifts, gang bangs (group sex), and physical retribution for “failing” to submit to the demands of clients and pimps. In a move that defied the contemporary “not our responsibility” rhetoric of the Football Association of Germany, Raymond Domenech issued the following public statement.

It is humiliating enough for me that football is linked with alcohol and violence, but this is worse. Human beings are being talked about like cattle, and football is linked with that. (6)

– Raymond Domenech, 26 April 2006, Coach of France’s National Football Team

Adding continues weight to the foundation of the movement began by Hiltrud Beyer and Crista Prets in 2005 and in the spirit of 2006 International Woman’s Day in Brussels, Anna Záborská was relentless in using her stature in parliament to keep the pressure on.

All the evidence is that illegal trafficking of women and girls, and their exploitation by the sex industry is a problem that is becoming more and more serious… I will ask commissioner Frattini to report back after the World Cup with an assessment of the scale of the problem and of the actions taken. (7)

– Anna Záborská, June 2006, Chair of the European Parliament’s Women’s Committee

In the final analysis, an article written by Mark Lander, published on 3 July 2006 entitled “World Cup Brings Little Pleasure to German Brothels” the New York Times captured details of prostitution activity in Germany; reporting that the expected increase in activity around the 2006 World Cup had not taken place. (8)

This 13 blog is a minimal overview of Anti-Sex Trafficking activities leading up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It is the opinion of the writer that in the absence of primary source, thorough analysis of global human rights advocacy and campaigns that took place before the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the impact of global activism is unknown. It would also be a tragic missed opportunity to be inspired by historical reference to individuals, able to see themselves as powerful change agents, aligning with like-minded individuals, in a consolidate effort to preempt the memory of the 2006 Word Cup as an event that left a ugly blemish on the face on humanity.

By the end of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, collective moral consciousness created and sustained a relentless and dynamic global movement of intolerance towards the sexual exploitation of women and children – Insurmountable. What remains to be seen is what major global headlines will read on the subject of Sex Trafficking at the end of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Regrettably, the movement in Germany was not sustainable. In a report by Jorg Ziercke, the Chief Commissioner of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany in May 2010 an increase of 70 percent over five years and 11 percent last year alone was reported. (9)

– Zola Dube

(1) US State Department. Trafficking in Persons Report. 5 June 2006

(2) Ayliffe, Daisy. The EU Prepares for International Women’s Day. 7 March 2006

(3, 4) Bindel, Julie. Guardian. Foul Play. May 30 2006

(5) Waterfield, Burno., Trafficking in Dubious Horror Stories. 22 June 2006

(6) Raymond Domenech. France Inter Radio. 26 April 2006

(7) Johnson, Brian. EU Red Card on World Cup Forced Prostitution. 12 June 2006

(8) Lander, Mark. New York Times. World Cup Brings Little Pleasure to German Brothels. 3 July 2006

(9) The Press TV. Human trafficking climbs in Germany. 24 May 2010