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Have hordes of sex workers snubbed the Commonwealth games?

They never turn up when you're expecting them

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In fact the biggest issue for sex workers in Germany – where prostitution is legal – was the spate of aggressive police raids on licensed brothels in Berlin.

Last but by no means least is Athens, where a forecast 20,000 increase in sex workers during the 2004 Olympics led to a rather less eye-catching increase in arrests of around 300 for the entire year.

There appears to be little to debate. On the one side, the massed ranks of academics and experts who have studied this issue are mostly agreed that major sporting events are NOT places to go looking for any increase in trafficking. As Catherine Stephens of the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) told us: "These are family events, and the idea that thousands of testosterone-fuelled blokes turn up looking for sex just doesn't reflect reality."

She added: "Cynically speaking, criminals are just not going to recoup that much money in a fortnight; the economics of it do not make sense."

A balanced view is offered by a spokesman for the Met, who tells us: "The Met treats crimes such as human trafficking and prostitution extremely seriously and already has a number of investigative and proactive teams focused on these issues and women's safety generally.

"Intelligence relating these types of crime to the Olympics is low and we are seeing no evidence of an 'explosion' in the sex industry or human trafficking in relation to the Games."

Against this are those who, on the basis of very little evidence, continue to demand resources be directed toward this “problem”. Seemingly oblivious o the advice of his own Police Force and jumping on a bandwagon already occupied by Labour MP Dennis MacShane and ArchBishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, London Mayor Boris Johnson expresses his determination "to crack down on prostitution and human trafficking in the run-up to the London 2012 Games".

He asserts: "Major sporting events are often linked to an upsurge in demand for prostitution, which in turn fuels human trafficking. At the Athens Olympics the number of known human trafficking victims almost doubled."

El Reg asked the Mayor’s office for the evidence behind this claim – but received no answer.

So does it matter? According to Ms Stephens, the answer is a resounding "Yes". She tells us: "In an economic climate where resources are getting scarcer, these high-profile campaigns are an absolute disgrace, eating up funds that could be used to help women looking for support – and failing to help those genuinely looking for a way out of sex work.

“It may make the campaigners feel better – or even boost their political egos. It does nothing for the victims they claim they want to help."

Meanwhile, in Delhi, the authorities remain on red alert, awaiting the arrival of those ubiquitous 40,000 sex workers. It will be interesting to see how many do turn up. ®

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