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Soccer World Cup Anti-Prostitution Campaign Kicks Off

DW staff (nda)February 23, 2006

The initiators of "Red Card for Forced Prostitution," seeking to fight against an influx of prostitutes during the World Cup in Germany this summer, launched their campaign in Berlin on Wednesday.

The campaign aims to educate people on the causes and dangers of prostitutionImage: AP

Publicity in all countries and announcements in the German media will seek to make the public aware of prostitution "as a form of modern slavery," said Konrad Freiberg, president of the German police union (GdP), which has joined the campaign.

He said the demand for prostitutes would increase during the sporting event, which will attract millions of people to Germany.

Some 175,000 women are already involved in prostitution in the county, according to the German Protestant Church, which is also part of the awareness campaign.

Another 40,000 prostitutes, mainly from eastern Europe, could come to Germany during the soccer World Cup, several associations fighting prostitution estimate.

The tournament is to be held in Germany from June 9 to July 9, and the anti-prostitution campaign's name refers to the red card given to soccer players for penalties forcing them to leave the pitch.

Sweden particularly concerned with trafficking

Prostituierte wartet auf der Straße
Sweden is concerned that World Cup prostitution will boost traffickingImage: BilderBox

Sweden's justice minister, Thomas Bodström, on Tuesday also voiced concerns to his European counterparts about the risk of forcing women into prostitution during the World Cup.

Bodström, a premier league football player in the late 1980s, said he was worried that "when you have a large gathering of people far away from home you tend to have a rise in prostitution and hence in trafficking."

Prostitution is legal in Germany but illegal in Sweden. Despite Swedish concerns, Bodström stopped short of asking his southern neighbors to ban prostitution.

Germany has assured all those countries taking part in the month-long tournament that the issue of prostitution and other security concerns will be dealt with and will not interfere with the event. "All measures are taken to ensure that the World Cup will take place in a safe and civilized way," a German diplomat said.

Prostitution at the World Cup and the implications it may have on the trafficking trade will be discussed at a European chiefs of police meeting at the beginning of March, Austria, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said.