Don’t Sit Back and Wait for the Human Trafficking Disaster at the World Cup

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South Africa will host the World Cup in 2010.  The Zimbabwe-based Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Educational Trust isn’t rejoicing.

[T]here are fears that the world’s most prestigious football event will negatively impact women and girls of Southern Africa as many acts of human trafficking are certainly expected, looking at the high levels of poverty in the region.

As observed by the Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Educational Trust (WLSA) Malawi national coordinator Seodi White, the vulnerable groups that might also include boys are expected to travel to RSA in pursuit of all the real and imagined opportunities associated with the major event.

“The low social and economic status of women in this part of Africa, many women and young girls will find themselves in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup and they will be vulnerable to sexual exploitation,”White said this in Blantyre on Monday.

According to WLSA, a grouping of lawyers and social scientists who conduct research that supports action to improve the socio-legal position of women in the southern part of Africa, the region remains one of the areas in the world with increasing trends of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The full story from the Malawi-based Nyasa Times newspaper is here.

According to a report issued by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, South Africa “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking,” and so that country is on the State Department “Watch List” for its “failure to show increasing efforts to address trafficking over the last year.”

The connection between big international soccer matches and human trafficking is not a new discovery (see prior blog post  here).   The question is what will South Africa and all other FIFA countries — including the U.S. — do to prevent more trafficking?

The Federation International de Football Association, World Cup soccer’s govering body, is comprised of 204 teams from all over the world — Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Oceania, South America.   FIFA makes some big promises on its website (here):

The world is a place rich in natural beauty and cultural diversity, but also one where many are still deprived of their basic rights.   FIFA now has an even greater responsibility to reach out and touch the world, using football as a symbol of hope and integration.

Basic rights.   Hope.   Integration.   We know those words shouldn’t mean “sit back and wait for the trafficking to happen.”

-Bridget Crawford

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