The affordable education loan option
By Clayton Barnes
Traffickers and pimps would exploit the opportunity of the World Cup with promises of jobs and thousands of dollars in cash, a child rights expert has warned.
Speaking in the city at a round-table discussion on child sexual exploitation and the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Susan Kreston, a Fulbright professor and research fellow at the Centre for Psychology and Law at the University of the Free State, said women and children would be especially targeted during the event.
Tough economic times and the five-week mid-year school holiday may lead to both adults and children searching for opportunities to get extra cash.
"Debt bondage is just one of the many ways people get trapped in trafficking," said Kreston. "The trafficker would offer the adult or child large amounts of money, or make promises of a good job with a good lifestyle in one of the 2010 host cities or abroad, but then the victims would be expected to sell their bodies or be mutilated as a form of repayment."
Kreston said 12.3-million people were trafficked annually across the world. One in 10 of these was a child.
She said children from as young as six were targeted by traffickers and pimps. They faced a future of being sexually violated up to six times a day.
Child pornography and cases of children using their cellphones to film each other having sex and swopping or selling the pictures, were also expected to spike during the World Cup.
"Children need to realise that this is a crime and that they could be selling these images to paedophiles who could make a living out of swapping their images with other criminals," she said.
Kreston said an overarching law against trafficking was needed before the World Cup. She urged the government to fast-track the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill.
Patric Solomons, the director of child rights group Molo Songololo, said child prostitution rings were growing rapidly across the Western Cape.
He said police in several areas, including Mitchells Plain, Manenberg, Khayelitsha, Athlone, Delft and Eerste River, were investigating reports of children being prostituted along the main routes.
"The closure of schools during the World Cup is our biggest concern," Solomons said. "The government, with the private sector and NGOs, needs to get programmes running during that period. If not, we will definitely see a large number of children being trafficked or lured into prostitution."
The Department of Education said the five-week holiday period would not be changed.
Earlier, officials said there was an extensive consultation process before the 2010 school calendar was determined.
Solomons added that the 2010 local organising committee and the police had noted the lack of child safety measures in their World Cup plans, and were addressing this.
It is believed that 40 000 women and children were trafficked during the World Cup in Germany in 2006, and it is estimated that close to 100 000 could be affected next year.