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2010 World Cup Lure for Human Traffickers

The NGO Doctors for Life is using Women’s Day (8/9) to call for tougher laws to stop human trafficking in South Africa. It says with South Africa hosting the World Cup in 2010, there could be a dramatic increase in human trafficking to supply prostitutes for the spectators.

Dr. Albu Van Eeden is the head of Doctors for Life. From Durban, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“In the first place, we have seen what has happened in Germany and other countries with the World Cup there. There was an estimated 40,000 women that were trafficked from the Far East and East Bloc countries into Germany to work as prostitutes during the World Cup. And we obviously foresee the same kind of thing happening in the World Cup that’s coming in 2010…. South Africa has no legislation in place against human trafficking. And in our research and our contact with law enforcement officials we’ve received a very clear message that South Africa is becoming a hub for the trafficking in human beings. And then from here they are shipped to European countries and other countries.”

Doctors for Life says women who are trafficked for prostitution face a great deal of abuse. Dr. Van Eeden says, “I think it’s very important that people should realize that prostitution is inherently harmful. These women are exposed to the inherent harm, the psychological harm of the profession, which leads to conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and various other physical assaults and all kinds of medical conditions. But on top of that, because of the fact that they cannot legally approach any government organization or police if there’s not legislation prohibiting it and they cannot call upon NGOs, they are exposed to all kinds of abuse that any slave would be exposed to. This is really modern day slavery.”

Doctors for Life says legislation is needed to not only protect the women by providing them help and transport back home, but to punish the customers as well. The group says that if the women are protected they could help authorities crack organized crime rings that are involved in human trafficking.