Feeds

Have hordes of sex workers snubbed the Commonwealth games?

They never turn up when you're expecting them

High performance access to file storage

Is it possible that somewhere out there is a lost tribe of sex workers, condemned forever to wander the globe in search of work and pay? We only ask because the latest alarming reports from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi warn of some 40,000 sex workers about to descend on the event.

Indian NGO Impulse NGO Network seem to believe that sex trade workers numbered in their thousands have been lured to India by promises of "lucrative pay" - though in reality they face exploitation and abuse.

For some reason 40,000 just happens to be the magic number of sex workers that were forecast to turn up at the World Cup in South Africa this year, at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver before that, and at the last World Cup in Germany. What is the significance of this number?

Exploiting trafficked sex workers is big business – not least for politicians and charity organisations riding on the back of this issue.

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that sex trafficking at major sporting events is mostly an urban myth. The Metropolitan Police are sceptical, urging vigilance, accompanied by a sense of proportion.

However, critics say that politicians such as London Mayor Boris Johnson, as well as church leaders and charity groups, still spread alarmist claims that are actively harming sex workers.

Let’s start with the World Cup which was forecast to attract as many as 40,000 additional sex workers. Given that the eventual total for all additional visitors to South Africa is estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000, that’s the scarcely commercial proposition of one trafficked sex worker to every 10 tourists.

An investigation by Women24 gives a very different picture. Johannesburg sex worker Zodwa Sangweni describes the World Cup season as a bust, telling the magazine: "We didn’t work well; there was no money."

According to Dianne Massawe, Advocacy Officer at the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), most Cape Town sex workers she spoke with told her business was slower than usual. Sex work expert Henry Trotter agreed, noting that most World Cup fans weren’t interested in paid sex.

What about other sporting events? The usual suspects were out and about at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver last winter, with the Canadian Salvation Army asserting authoritatively that "the numbers [of trafficked sex workers] are expected to increase in 2010 with the Winter Olympics’ influx of international visitors".

When this increase did not materialise the answer was simple. As Sheila Coates, a Director with South Essex Rape and Crisis Centre explained: "In Vancouver it looks like it wasn’t as big a problem as anticipated because they planned for it and planned it out."

Then there was the World Cup in Germany in 2006, where forecasts of an additional 40,000 trafficked sex workers were again bandied about - and again failed to materialise. German police may have made five arrests for trafficking during this period although, as a report (pdf) by the widely respected Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women suggests: "all data, information and expert statements strongly indicate this (increase) did not occur either during or after the World Cup."

High performance access to file storage

Next page: Where is everybody?

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.