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‘Visas needed’ to prevent World Cup prostitution

Published on March 08, 2006

8 March 2006

BRUSSELS – European Union justice chief Franco Frattini on Wednesday said visa requirements should be slapped on all non-EU citizens travelling to Germany during this summer’s World Cup as part of a drive to prevent an expected increase in the trafficking of sex workers during the period.

“We need to introduce and re-introduce temporary visas for all third countries – even those not requiring visas so far – but which are possible origin countries for trafficked women and children,” Frattini told reporters.

The commissioner unveiled his proposals at a European Parliament seminar against forced prostitution during major world sport events like the World Cup.

Frattini said the list of countries affected by the move did not include Bulgaria and Romania. But he said other eastern European states as well as Latin America, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa would be covered.

“These are the regions of origin of trafficked women forced into prostitution,” the commissioner said.

Frattini did not mention Russia and Ukraine as countries which would be subject to the new visa restrictions but women from the two states – as well as from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland – top the list of sex workers in Germany.

With the World Cup taking place in June and July, visas should be issued for a period of up to 45 days, Frattini said.

The proposals are expected to be studied by EU leaders on March 23-24. The idea had not yet been discussed with the German government, Frattini said.

As witnessed during former mega sports events in Europe, including the Olympic Games, around 1,000 women could be smuggled into Germany to work as prostitutes during the World Cup, the EU justice chief said.

The EU’s member states must strengthen internal border controls as women forced into prostitution are often deceived by promises of legitimate work, he added.

Frattini also urged national governments to help setting up a common database on organized crime such as human trafficking and announced to launch a study on the impact of legal prostitution on the trafficking of women.

“Very few people become prostitutes out of their free will,” European employment commissioner Vladimir Spidla said, adding: “Prostitution is incompatible with human dignity.”

But German Euro MP Hiltrud Breyer underlined that Parliamentarians “do not campaign against normal prostitution but against forced prostitution only” as it is a serious violation of human rights.

Awareness-raising among customers was therefore vital for any action against forced prostitution, she added. Euro MPs urged national governments to support a German campaign against trafficking called “Final whistle – Stop forced prostitution.”

Initiated by the German National Council of Women, it runs under the patronage of the German Football Association DFB.

According to trafficking experts at the German Investigative Police, demand for prostitution is likely to increase during the June 9-July 9 tournament to be staged in 12 German cities, as it does during every major sports event. An exact number of women who might be trafficked into the country can not be estimated, they said.

But the number of unreported cases is much higher than the 972 women trafficked into Germany recorded in 2004. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” a spokeswoman for the German Women’s Council told DPA. “Trafficked women are victims of organized crime, but they are much too scared to go to the police.”

The women’s organization urged the German government to grant victims of human trafficking residence permits for three or more months.

“Trafficked women need this period to decide whether they are willing to serve as witnesses in legal proceedings,” the spokeswoman said. According to EU law, women who have been trafficked into the bloc can get a residence permit for at least six months if they help the national authorities to prosecute their traffickers.

The Council of Europe, the EU’s top human rights watchdog, earlier this week called on Germany to set an example by ratifying a convention on action against human trafficking.

The accord so far has not been signed by any of its 46 member states, the Council said. People trafficking is a thriving business. It is now believed to be worth 11 billion euros annually, becoming the third most lucrative illicit income-spinner for organized crime, after dealing in arms and drugs, according to the United Nations.

An estimated one million people – mainly women – are trapped by people smugglers every year worldwide.


Subject: German news