South Africa: Women religious launch campaign to prevent human trafficking for 2010 World Cup Print E-mail

 14 May 2010

Orders combat sex trafficking at World Cup

By Carol Glatz
A poster published with the aim of raising awareness of the problem of human trafficking (CNS)

An international network of women's religious orders has launched a worldwide awareness campaign aimed at preventing human trafficking during the June 11 to July 11 World Cup tournament in South Africa.

The campaign "2010 Should Be About the Game" has been targeting fans, religious leaders, potential victims of trafficking and the general public - warning them about the risks and urging them to spread the word.

Sr Bernadette FMA at the Rome Reports Television interview, 12 May. View HERE

Salesian Sister Bernadette Sangma, who coordinates the anti-trafficking project of the International Union of Superiors General said that using the 2010 World Cup to exploit vulnerable women, children and men for slave labour, the sex industry and the drug trade is "an outright perversion of the spirit and ethical dimension of sport as well as of the idea and dignity of the human person".

A similar anti-trafficking campaign coordinated by the superiors general and the International Organisation for Migration was highly successful during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, said Stefano Volpicelli, a migration office official who has been working with the Sisters.

Fewer than 10 cases of human trafficking were discovered in the run-up to and during the month-long games in 2006, he said.

The campaign was successful, he said, because intense media attention on the problem led German authorities to take proper precautions, including tightening border controls and increasing the police presence and inspections at the local level. But most importantly, he said, "for the first time the kind of fans at the World Cup were different".

They were not the stereotypical rowdy groups of males or trouble-making individuals, but predominantly families and young couples, Mr Volpicelli said.

Unfortunately, the situation in South Africa will probably not be the same, he said. For one thing, the nation's borders are extremely porous, making it fairly easy for traffickers to shuttle in victims undetected, he said. There is also no law in South Africa against human trafficking, which means not only are there no penalties against people committing this internationally recognised crime and there are also no police units dedicated to investigating traffickers, he said.

Another problem is that the government decided to close schools nationwide for the duration of the tournament, which, Mr Volpicelli said, will make children even more vulnerable to falling prey to deceptive job advertisements.

Children will see the time off from school as "a golden opportunity" to make money, he said, but traffickers might take advantage of that and promise them a chance to make quick and easy cash.

Traffickers often lure unsuspecting people by promising them legitimate jobs in restaurants or hotels only to force them into prostitution or other illegal activities, Mr Volpicelli said. Another concern is that the public's perception of South Africa is that it's a dangerous place, which will probably discourage many families from attending.

That means the fan base might be overwhelmingly composed of men, who come alone or in groups unaccompanied by family members, he said. The women's religious orders' international network called Talita Kum, Aramaic for "Get Up," is carrying out an awareness campaign in South Africa, neighbouring countries, countries where large numbers of fans are expected to come from, and countries such as Thailand, where victims of trafficking are likely to be targeted, said Sister Sangma.

They are working closely with the South African Bishops' Conference and the South African government, which has set up a freephone number for victims to call for help or for whistleblowers, she said.

CM PAUL NEWS GRAB ~ May 13, 2010

Salesian Sister Warns Against Human Trafficking During FIFA 2010

 Sr Bernadette FMA at the Rome Reports Television interview, 12 May.

FIFA World Cup scheduled to be held this summer will draw millions of soccer fans to South Africa. The activities happening off the field has Indian born Salesian Sister Bernadette tuned into the south African nation more than ever before.

“There’s a lot of demand, demand for different types of services, work in restaurants, hotels but also sexual services that will be very much veiled,” says Sr Bernadette Sangma.

Sister Bernadette is part of the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons or Talitha-Kum. The fear is the international sporting event can lead to an increase in human trafficking for sexual exploitation in a place that’s already considered a hub for that type of criminal activity.

The organization has launched a campaign to get the word out about the danger of human trafficking.

They’re taking the message directly to the most vulnerable by reaching out to them in schools, youth centers, parishes and through newspaper and radio ads. They’re sending out warnings across the continent and as far away as Thailand and Brazil.

“We are very much aware of the borders in South Africa, they are very very porous, people can come in and out very easily without control so that can facilitate trafficking bring young people very easily into South Africa during the World Cup,” warns Sister Bernadette

While its difficult to measure just how serious the threat is, the International Organization for Migration says anecdotal evidence suggest smugglers are stepping up their efforts.

“During the building of the stadium, for instance, our colleagues registered some cases of trafficking they found the people who were being exploited and they found behind the exploitation was also case of trafficking,” adds Mr Stefano Volpicelli of International Organization for Migration.

“That’s why, from now until the end of the 2010 World Cup, it’s important to reach out to as many potential victims as we can,” insists Sr Bernadette.

ROME Reports: Human Trafficking a growing concern amid 2010 FIFA World Cup.