The games of the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup are about to open in Germany, and the contest is shaping up to be about more than soccer. Politics, for example, with suggestions that the games may serve as a way to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. Considering the tournament's slogan, "A Time to Make Friends," that may be difficult.
But there is one aspect of the spectacle -- not just a suggestion -- that is firmly underway. That is the extraordinary increase in prostitution and sex trafficking to meet the demands of 3 million World Cup fans. Prostitution and pimping, sad to say, are legal in Germany. In 2001 Germany's official position became that prostitution should no longer be seen as immoral.
Here are some facts from American and European reports:
* There are an estimated 400,000 women in prostitution in Germany.
* 75 percent of the prostitutes are foreigners.
* 80 percent of the trafficked women in Germany are from Central and Eastern Europe.
* Regional and city officials are involved in planning and providing "sex huts" or "sex garages" for prostitution during World Cup Games.
* Officials accommodate the demand for prostitution and provide for their anonymity.
* Officials estimate that 3 million fans will buy sex while at World Cup Games.
* 40,000 extra prostitutes are expected to be brought into Germany during this time. Many of the women in prostitution in Germany are trafficked; many of the additional women brought in for the World Cup will be trafficked as well.
* "Mega-brothels," which house up to 100 women and operate 24 hours/day, are being built.
* Officials in 12 cities that will host the World Cup games plan to provide special licenses for prostitutes so they can offer sex on the street.
* City officials are adopting a "pragmatic" approach to the situation.
How did all this come about? Think back to the 1990s when certain feminists the world over proclaimed that prostitutes must be considered workers like anyone else -- "workers" whose business is sex. Therefore, these "sex workers" deserved the approval, rights, and benefits of the state. These activists dismissed apprehensions about women being forced into prostitution and, according to a study by the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis University, declared "the harms of prostitution are caused largely by moral attitudes and their domestic legal consequences." Here's a pip of a quote from "Brazilian activist" Gabriella Leite: "I look forward to the day when every prostitute can put their hand on their heart and say 'I am a worker,' and every worker can put their hand on their heart and say 'I am a prostitute.'"
So Germany gave in and the "sex worker" feminists got their way. But not everyone in Europe is buying it. The Prague Post reported:
The normalization of prostitution as work has not occurred in Germany, the Netherlands, or Australia. Legalization was supposed to provide women with benefits and the right to join unions, but few women have signed up [for] either. The reason has to do with the basic nature of prostitution. It is not work, a job like any other. It is abuse and exploitation that women only engage in if forced to or when they have no other options. Women and children controlled by mafias and criminals cannot register with an authority or join a union. Unionization of "sex workers" [an idea promoted by world feminists] is a fantasy, because it is incompatible with the coercive and abusive nature of prostitution.
In opposition, Swedish official Claes Borgstrom urged his country's soccer players to boycott the games. He said, "This event will be followed attentively by the whole world. Many people just don't know what's going on behind the scenes. This is our chance to show we don't accept prostitution and the human trafficking associated with it....Sex is one thing, prostitution another. The link between human trafficking and prostitution is obvious."
Another strong opponent is Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Human Rights. He spoke of "the thousands of women and children trafficked and exploited in Germany's legal sex industry to accommodate the huge influx of...male fans." Not just women, but children as well. The thought is unthinkable to us and doubly unthinkable when we read that UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) and SOS Children's Village are listed as official sponsors of the games. SOS Children's Village is the "official charity campaign of the FIFA World Cup 2006" and calls itself an international child welfare organization. Under Germany's "pragmatic approach," it appears that the charity will be benefiting from events surrounded by the exploitation of children. Go figure.
On the eve of the games, others are speaking out as well. The European Parliament has warned of the dangers of trafficking and stressed the need for an integrated Europe-wide campaign to combat the scourge. The National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) has launched a nationwide public awareness campaign with the slogan "Buying Sex is not a Sport." Other women's groups across Europe joined in and there were protests at Nordic Council meetings in Stockholm.
Will all of this have done any good by the time the games are over? Or have the follies of our times -- moral relativism, sex revolutions, nonjudgmentalism, and all the others -- simply come home to roost?