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A scared woman crying
The video clip gives forced prostitution a human faceImage: Kampagne Euro 08

Modern slavery

DW staff (win)
June 6, 2008

Human rights organizations fear that the European Championships could lead to an increase in forced prostitution. One group has now come up with a shocking way to deter potential clients.


A young, frightened woman ends up as a prostitute after she's auctioned off like cattle by a crowd of men, who wildly scream at each other -- that's the content of a video clip by the Swiss Campaign Against Trafficking in Women during Euro 2008.

The film will be broadcast on Swiss television, in soccer stadiums and at public viewing events to shake up potential clients of prostitutes. Gaby Vermot, who heads the campaign, said that the championships are a unique opportunity to educate people about forced prostitution.

Members of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament agree and have called for a broad-based societal initiative against forced prostitution ahead of the championships, which will take place in Austria and Switzerland starting Saturday, June 7.

Showing the red card

Two women in underwear standing next to a road
Some 500,000 women from eastern Europe are forced prostitutesImage: AP

Anna Zaborska, a Slovak conservative member of the European Parliament, who heads the committee, said that a "red card for forced prostitution," introduced during the World Cup in Germany in 2006, should be revived during the current competition.

Lissy Groener, a German Social Democratic committee member, said that the 2006 campaign had been successful.

"Two years ago, a large campaign made sure that the expected increase of forced prostitution was prevented," she said.

Groener added that up to 800,000 women become victims of forced prostitution each year.

"This is one of the most upsetting violation of human rights nowadays," she said.

Double trouble

More than half a million women from eastern Europe alone are forced into prostitution each year, according to the committee. Groener said that the women are put in a difficult situation for two reasons: On the one hand, they're illegal immigrants in the country that they've been brought to. On the other hand, they're forced to prostitute themselves.

"Much more has to happen," Groener said, referring to more action taken by the EU Commission. At the same time, the campaign is not about pointing fingers at the host countries, she added.

"As political mouth pieces for the affected women, we want to put a stop to this modern form of slavery," she said.

Getting the facts

A woman in a shiny dress standing in a window, a potential customer is also seen
Everything but glamorousImage: Kampagne Euro 08

Christa Prets, an Austrian committee member, added that the campaign was also not interested in castigating soccer events.

"It's simply a fact that there's more prostitution during soccer events and big events in general," she said.

Committee members said that they don't have any definitive figures on how much forced prostitution takes place during such events. That's part of the problem, Prets said, and called for more data collection.

"We won't be able to register all prostitutes and all illegal sex workers, but it would be good to have a common European data collection system," she said.
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