Tuesday, May 25, 2010

South Africa: Prostitutes Flock to World Cup

Schalk van Zuydam/AP
A train passes people in the township of Khayelitsha situated on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday. The World Cup 2010 kicks off in South Africa next month, and what awaits hundreds of thousands of visitors is a nation of contrasts.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - As with the 2006 World Cup in Germany, a rampant sex trade is of concern to human rights groups ahead of the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, which kicks off next month. Prostitutes, many from impoverished Zimbabwe, are arriving to cash in on an estimated 500,000 visiting fans.

Zimbabwe's sex workers are deserting their country for greener pastures in South Africa as the World Cup 2010 draws nearer, causing human rights and church groups worldwide to call for measures to curb human trafficking and prostitution.

But the economic promise offered by the arrival of some 500,000 World Cup foreign fans is already attracting impoverished workers.

"If ever there was time to make money, this is the right time," says Shuvai, a Zimbabwean commercial sex worker working at Maxime Hotel in Johannesburg.

The 22-year-old says she arrived in Johannesburg on March 27 with eight fellow prostitutes from Zimbabwe, north of the Limpopo River. She says that she came because of all the international visitors for the World Cup, June 11 - July 11.

The event is no stranger to the sex trade. The 2006 World Cup in Germany, where brothels and prostitution is legalized, brought on an additional influx of an estimated 40,000 sex workers – plus a lot of criticism from rights groups. South Africa's Central Drug Central Authority has also estimated that 40,000 sex workers will come to Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup, though the agency gives no reasoning for this figure.

A check of eight popular Johannesburg hotels – Maxime Hotel, Royal Hotel, Hillbrow Inn, Ambassador Hotel, Diplomat Hotel, Little Rose Hotel, Summit Hotel, and Orion Devonshire Hotel – and others in Sandton, Fourways, Crego, Rosebank, Midrand, and Boksburg showed them to be filled with newly arrived prostitutes, most of them from Zimbabwe.

Hotel employees also say they have seen a recent influx of prostitutes.

"From the look of the fully booked hotels around Johannesburg and Pretoria, we think these female sex workers could exceed 40,000," says one hotel general manager, declining to be identified. "There are some from outside Africa from as far as China, Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, and Venezuela, who are here for prostitution."

Young prostitutes appear to be organized into groups led by a elder women who smuggles the girls here from Zimbabwe, says Ushe Nyahunzvi, a man from Zimbabwe who works at the Hillbrow Inn...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CSMonitor.com

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