Fantastic World Cup, Not So Fantastic Human Trafficking
The spotlight is on South Africa and it's not just because of the World Cup, even though soccer is the main attraction.
This world-televised event offers 64 soccer matches at nine different stadiums and hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the venue to witness the event, but not everyone there is a soccer aficionado.
Many women and young children from poverty stricken places around the world have been lured or forced into prostitution by illegal syndicates to exploit the high concentration of "customers" that have gathered for the World Cup.
Human trafficking is a global concern because, as an illegal trade, it doesn't recognize national boundaries. For the World Cup, women from other continents are trafficked illegally into South Africa. These women and children were promised lucrative "work abroad" jobs, only to find themselves trapped in a foreign country as sex slaves.
Coupled with unprotected sex, many women and children contract AIDS, which fuels the AIDS epidemic on that continent and beyond, when those who have traveled to South Africa for the soccer games leave with more than commemorative memorabilia.
Since the victims of human trafficking are too abused and too poor to receive any medical care, many of them die from AIDS, adding to the death toll.
E. Benjamin Skinner, a fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery, spent three weeks investigating human trafficking syndicates near two stadiums.
A lack of comprehensive human trafficking laws in South Africa creates an inviting opportunity for the sex industry to flourish during the World Cup unchecked.
The crack dealers that Skinner talked to were expanding into human trafficking because it was more lucrative and less risky. Human traffickers recruit women and children from South Africa where 70 percent of the children live in poverty. But apart from luring South African women and children, the traffickers also recruit from countries as far away as China.Continued on the next page