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Thai Sex Workers Warned Against Going to World Cup

May 22, 2006

A rights group has warned Thai sex workers against going to Germany during the World Cup, saying they could be subject to "all kinds of abuse," a report said Sunday.

The June-July event becomes a magnet for prostitutes as the 64-match tournament sees millions of football fans flood into Germany.

The Empower Foundation, a Thai non-profit organization helping to protect sex workers' rights, said Thai prostitutes could earn double what they get at home but warned that they might face "unfair working conditions."

"Thai sex workers in a foreign country face risks, especially if they aren't fluent in the language," said Porntip Pakwai from the foundation, according to the Thai English-language daily Nation.

"Although prostitution is legal in Germany, only Germans are allowed to work in the industry," she said, urging Thai workers to keep phone numbers such as that of the Thai embassy handy in case of emergencies.

It warned that "mafia-style" figures were often involved in the sex industry.

Women's rights activists have forecast that around 40,000 prostitutes, mainly from eastern Europe, could swell the numbers already working in the sex trade in Germany during the World Cup.