PtG Article 17.03.2006

Football World Cup enrolled in fight against forced prostitution

German authorities should set up telephone hotlines, safe houses and legal aid to help the many women expected to be forced into working as prostitutes during the upcoming World Cup in football.

That is the demand from members of the European Parliament, the most recent group to join the growing movement against sexual exploitation of women on the fringes of major sport events.

The women should have practical help to escape the people exploiting them when in Germany. That is the idea behind the resolution adopted by European Parliament earlier this week. The resolution also encourages authorities in all EU countries to raise awareness among the general public and sports people about forced prostitution in the hope it may curb demands for such sexual services.

Final Whistle - Stop Forced Prostitution

Since September 2005, the German Women's Council has been trying to raise the issue of forced prostitution in connection with the World Cup and involve sports organisations, particularly FIFA and the German Football Federation, in campaigning against it.

More information about the German campaign (in English)

In the beginning, the talk fell on deaf ears within the sports movement. Only one high profile football player was prepared to consider endorsing the campaign and the German Football Federation dismissed the concerns saying that the organisation received dozens of petitions every day asking for support to "just causes" and it could not possibly respond to all of them.

However, the movement has gathered momentum and last week the German Women's Council launched the campaign "Final Whistle - Stop Forced Prostitution" under the patronage of Dr. Theo Zwanziger who is president of the German Football Federation.

The campaign uses World Cup as a platform to raise public awareness about the problem of human trafficking and forced prostitution. It is based on the premise that big sport events where men gather in masses are always accompanied by a significant increase in the sex service sector around the venues.

"But in the shadows of legal prostitution, forced prostitution increases too. The campaign protests against this severe violation of fundamental human rights; not against prostitution, prostitutes or customers of prostitutes", says the campaign website.

The goal of the campaign is to build European-wide awareness that trafficking of women for forced prostitution takes place every day in all countries. This awareness should lead to better legislation and policy-making on how to combat the problem.