Church groups, government prepare to head off human trafficking at FIFA
Church groups and the South African government are working together to prevent the proliferation of human trafficking at the month-long South African World Cup which starts on June 11.
It has been estimated that some 40,000 to 100,000 people may be trafficked during the football spectacular, in a sex trade industry where children can earn $45 to $600 a night for their captors, the Christian Post said.
FIFA is expected to attract up to 350,000 overseas visitors from some 53 countries.
The event will be held in 10 venues scattered around nine South African host cities, according to The Guardian.
Last May 21 South Africa’s President Zuma launched Child Protection Week and the Children’s Act. A new law was also fast tracked against human trafficking prior to the World Cup, to give South African courts jurisdiction over human trafficking acts outside the country’s borders, the Christian Post reported.
Prior to that, from May 18 to 19, the Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa met in Johannesburg, where bishops from Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe discussed the problem of human trafficking in their region, the Christian Post said.
IMBISA director Fr. Richard Menatsi said in his opening remarks that some 300 women and children are trafficked weekly from Mozambique into South Africa, the Christian Post said.
In a statement the bishops said, “It has been noted that [FIFA] has become a way of sending people to traffickers…especially girls who are told that they will be waitresses or tour guides for the visitors,” the Christian Post said.
Meanwhile Christian Brothers Investment Services, which manages $3.8 billion for Catholic institutions worldwide, sent two letters on April 12 and April 20 to CEOs and owners of eight hotel chains in South Africa, including InterContinental, Hyatt, Starwood, Accor, Carlson and Best Western. The CBIS asked hotel operators to take action to prevent sexual exploitation of children and other human trafficking crimes, the Christian Post said.
UNICEF (a secular group) is also contributing to the effort with four free FIFA Fan Fests which provide Child-Friendly Spaces. These spaces have social workers, child and youth care workers, and trained volunteers to provide child protection services, emergency care and child-appropriate activities, according to their website.
FIFA is perceived to play a large role in helping South Africa’s nation building efforts as its young democracy enters a new chapter in its post-apartheid history, according to The Guardian.
President Zuma takes the effort seriously. The day before he launched Child Protection Week, he attended a mass prayer meeting for women, where he prayed for a successful World Cup, according to the Christian Post.