Sex Trafficking at the Olympics and the World Cup

Global sporting events, such as the Olympics and World Cup, hold an unreported secret: they are magnets for those who traffic and abuse women/girls in the prostitution trade. Falconberg investigates.

AUGUST 8, 2008 — the auspicious opening date for the Beijing Olympics. What no one seems to be mentioning during these two glorious weeks of sports is that sex-for-sale and sex trafficking will most likely be part of the festivities…

When the World Cup was held in Germany in 2006, Julie Bindel wrote an article, "Foul Play," in the UK Guardian May 30, 2006) about the explosion in sex trafficking that would be an overlooked sideline of the event. She also pointed out that other major sporting events, like the Olympic Games, are venues for this kind of exploitation. In my dumbness and innocence, it never occurred to me to connect sports and prostitution before reading Bindel's piece; but I have since learned that sex-for-sale is rife and common, whether it be at the Olympics or the NFL Superbowl. Inevitably, girls are trafficked in, to meet the high customer demand.

Bindel interviewed Alina, "a woman who knows something about the link between sex and sport. She escaped as traffickers tired to bring her into the UK from Athens… She had been abducted from… Moscow for the Olympic Games. When the games ended, Alina was considered 'second-hand' and sold on to another criminal gang who transported her to London in the hope that she would make money in a Soho brothel. 'I was worn out, literally used up and spat out,' she says, talking from a safe house in London. 'During the games I saw hundreds of men, some British, who thought that a good time was watching sport, drinking and having sex. We were part of the entertainment.'"

For the World Cup, British men could buy condoms at 500 branches of Superdrug with slogans emblazoned on them like 'Lie Back and Think of England,' and decorated with the cross of St. George.

Bindel quotes Will McMahon, director of the Crime and Society Foundation, as saying the message at the World Cup to women was "We don't give a damn about you."

At least, the message was that to these particular women. About 40,000 were trafficked in to deal with the 3 million fans, and Germany even built a mega-brothel right beside the soccer venue in Berlin, and set girls up in mobile brothels all over the country. Stalls the size of toilets housed the bodies to be raped as the men relieved themselves inside the women. The toilet analogy is certainly appropriate: as a military man once said to me, "The only difference between a whore and a toilet is that you don't have to flush the whore. She flushes herself."

What is currently happening in Beijing? We know that trafficked girls from all over the world 'work' in China, and that there is a Russian contingent of at least 15,000 trafficked girls who service Chinese men. This number comes from several years ago, so it is probably much higher by now. China is the largest importer of trafficked Russian girls in Asia, with Korea being second. For the Olympics, are these girls being transferred to Beijing and sold, alongside their Chinese counterparts? What about all the other nationalities currently trafficked into the Chinese sex trade — girls from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan — are they also being further exploited by sex tourists at the Games?

If this is a typical Olympics, it seems a certainty. (Back during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, some male athletes insisted they be given geisha. The Japanese dressed up some pathetic prostitutes in geisha style and sent them to the men.)

Are girls being put to use to service the Olympic tourists in Beijing? Will the athletes themselves be celebrating their victories by buying sex? If anyone in China knows any thing more about this issue, please contact me about it. I haven't been able to find a mention of it in the media, unlike other aspects that have received attention. The Olympic torch had a tough time on its journey due to protests over Tibet, a widely covered story. Animal groups have protested open-air markets where dogs are butchered live and the bear farms where animals are milked for their bile. But, of all the 'rights' violations being leveled against China in order to discredit the Olympics, this particular one — trafficking, which involves all the nations of the world in a spirit of rape and degradation of women — is being ignored, as usual. The situation stems partly from the refusal to recognize prostitution as a violation of human rights. In reality, it is sexual violence toward women. But in the view of most it is simply 'entertainment' based on a harmless financial transaction. The desire to draw a distinction between prostitution and trafficking only masks the fact that both usually involve the same exploitations of women.

During the World Cup, I could not find one ping of protest from a female fan in Germany — the voice of outrage came from a few women's rights advocates and organizations like CATW (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women) and Amnesty International. If women fans in Beijing see sex-for-sale, maybe they can say something? Or perhaps a female athlete can investigate and speak up? Kristy Coventry, the swimmer from Zimbabwe, might be a likely candidate since she has been seen as a symbol of hope in her troubled country.  In Zimbabwe, where unrest has created huge financial hardship, over 200,000 children just within its boundaries are vulnerable to trafficking, according to a June 7, 2006 TIP (Trafficking in Persons) report; and Zimbabwe, like other African countries, is a source destination for girls exported for sex to Europe.

Apparently there are 'Save Darfur' activists among the athletes. Perhaps they could seek out the Beijing brothels were trafficked girls are being held and call attention to their plight. And help them escape.

Maybe a contingent from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International can investigate this side of sporting events, starting with the Beijing Olympics.

What is the rhetoric of the Olympics? Higher, greater, purer? Is it not about the best in the human spirit? I don't think the Olympics are supposed to promote and support a devastating form of sexual exploitation.

As I was researching sex trafficking at the Beijing Olympics, almost no information surfaced on the internet. But I did run across other instances of sporting events as sites of sexual exploitation. I found, for example, that sex trafficking increased by 95% during the Athens Olympics and that about 20,000 sex slaves were imported, mostly from Eastern Europe and Russia.

I learned a heartening fact about the World Cup in Germany: a group of American women living in Germany opened up their homes to girls who managed to escape their traffickers, in an effort to give them safety and a haven.

I learned that there is a move in South Africa to legalize prostitution in Durban for the 2010 World Cup. A BBC news story (July 16, 2008) said that Durban's municipality was impressed with the way "Germany had many adult entertainment centres during the World Cup in 2006, which were very popular with visitors… City officials say there are already young girls and women working as prostitutes on the streets of Durban." The city officials want to place them in legal brothels during the World Cup so that they can "operate in safe environments."

These are obviously some very misinformed city officials. There is no 'safe' form of prostitution for a woman. Violence and sexual degradation are the norm for the woman forced to sell sex. And I would suspect that 'safety' for the prostitutes is not much of a factor for these politicians. 'Hygiene,' as usual, is probably the angle of importance since South Africa has some of the highest AIDS rates in the world. It would damage their world image if all the sex tourists took AIDS home. Profit is most likely another factor. As MP George Lekgetho, who is all in favor of legalizing it — says, "it is one of the things that would make it [the World Cup] a success."

Stop Trafficking!, the Anti-Human Trafficking Newsletter (May 2008) quotes the former national police commissioner of South Africa as saying they want to follow Germany 's "successful path." The newsletter goes on: "Already in South Africa, anti-trafficking activists say there are reports of street children being gathered up in readiness for the World Cup." And it says, "an estimated 90% of prostitutes are forced into the sex trade."

Despite the paucity of information about the current situation in Beijing, I found, in my search, quite a bit about what is going on in Vancouver concerning the upcoming 2010 Winter Games there. My Stop Trafficking! Newsletter (May 2008) tells me that the mayor of that city is "open to meeting the sexual needs of the tourists attending the Games." (Would the mayor like his own wife or daughter or sister or mother or niece to welcome and service the sex tourists, I wonder? If the reports from Athens were accurate, the women designated for sex-tourist 'convenience' were used to the point of exhaustion, used till there was nothing left of them. Is the mayor "open" to the women who might be dear to him being treated in this way so that the "needs" of the male fans can be met?)

In Vancouver, one instigator of the plan is a prostitute named Susan Davis, who wants to establish 'co-op' brothels for the Winter Olympics sex tourists. This woman has been in the trade for 21 years, has had a number of crack-cocaine induced heart attacks (she's only 39) and speaks of violence from customers. She says that this lifestyle is hers by 'choice.' We can debate this aspect of her claim later. I have too much else to cover right now.

I do see that Ms. Davis' intention is to create that 'safe' place that the 'legalize it' people are striving for. She envisions a 'co-op' where the prostitutes control their lives. But prostitution does not work that way. For one, the majority of women in prostitution want out, they are sick — physically from diseases and abuse — they are 'owned' by those who make money off of them, they are usually disadvantaged even before they become prostitutes — raped, poor, easy for pimps to pick up on and 'turn out' for whoring — unprotected. Those who don't go in to feed a drug habit often become addicted to withstand the humiliations of this lifestyle. If that co-op makes it, will it really be able to help the wretched majority that make up most Vancouver prostitutes?

There has been quite a bit of debate and response to these prostitution proposals in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. In an article by Wency Leung on Womensenews.org (Oct. 11, 2007), we learn that "the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter objects to the idea of a co-op brothel, as it views prostitution as a means of perpetuating violence against women. An overwhelming majority of prostitutes would leave the sex trade if given a choice, said shelter spokesperson Daisy Kler… She added that a co-op would not protect Vancouver's most vulnerable women, as those who work the streets solely to survive would not likely have the money to join… Cracking down on pimps and johns would more effectively improve the safety of sex workers than offering a place where men could continue to exploit women, Kler said. 'We don't think men should be entitled to buy and sell women to satiate themselves.'"

An article by Jeff Lee in the Vancouver Sun (Nov. 11, 2007) fleshes out the debate even more. He writes: "It has been documented that many sex workers do not start out as addicts, but become addicts to deal with the abuse they suffer because of prostitution… Opponents of the brothel say it would only perpetuate the idea that prostitution is acceptable, and not solve the abuse heaped on women in an industry most of them don't want to be in."

"'It entrenches prostitution as legitimate, and therefore legitimatizes pimps and traffickers,' said Daisy Kler. "I do not believe the public would agree that this is a good idea, to have some disposable women available for the Olympics."

There is also opposition, Lee tells us, from "Calgary-based The Future Group… warning that Vancouver 's Olympics will be a target of human traffickers wanting to exploit prostitution. The report, titled 'Faster, Higher, Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics,' said the federal and provincial governments need to deter traffickers from using the Games to profit from human misery."

Lee gives us some startling statistics: "Studies show more than 90 per cent of women in the sex trade are not there by choice, but rather because of trafficking, drug addiction and societal problems such as incest." And it would seem that almost all women in prostitution want out: according to research Lee cites, the numbers of women who want to escape their 'profession' are astonishing: in the United States, 88%; South Africa, 89%; Zambia, 99%; Turkey, 94%; and in Thailand, an overwhelming 90%. This latter is supposed to be the land of smiling, happy-to-sell-themselves, subservient little brown hookers who don't regard prostitution as "any big deal" (or so all the sex tourists and farangs and servicemen assure us, from their in-power, patriarchal perspective as buyers).

Lee also references Janine Benedet, an associate professor of law at the University of B.C., who says that "the majority of Vancouver 's prostitutes are native women, and many of them suffer from deep psychological trauma."

I found the voice of those native women of Vancouver on a site called Angryforareason.blogspot.com (Nov. 12, 2007): "We, the Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN)… speak especially in the interests of the most vulnerable women - street prostitutes, of which a significant number are young Aboriginal women and girls. We have a long, multi-generational history of colonization, marginalization, and displacement from our Homelands, and rampant abuses that has forced many of our sisters into prostitution… Given that the average age at which girls enter prostitution is fourteen, the majority with a history of unspeakable abuses, we are also speaking out for the Aboriginal children who are targeted by johns and pimps. Aboriginal girls are hunted down and prostituted, and the perpetrators go uncharged with child sexual assault and child rape… It is not the street per se or the laws for that matter, which are the source of the problem, but prostitution itself which depends on a sub-class of women or a degraded caste to be exploited…"

This site also includes a statement by a Vancouver group called Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude: The "current discourse on prostitution would have the public believe that it is normal work that simply needs to be better regulated… We want you to know: We are women who have been harmed by prostitution. We believe that no amount of changing the conditions or the locations in which we were prostituted could ever have significantly reduced that harm. We experience the normalizing of that harm by calling it 'work' insulting at best.

"It matters very little to us whether we were prostituted on the streets or in the tolerated indoor venues and escort agencies of Vancouver. Our memories are not of the locations but of the men who consistently acted as though we were not quite human… We oppose any measure that would put more power in the hands of the men who abused us by telling them that they are legally entitled to do so… As hosts of the 2010 games, we want our city, our home, to refuse to take part in the global flesh market that is sex tourism and send a message to the world that women will not be sold in Vancouver."

Stop Trafficking! Newsletter (May 2008) quotes Vancouver police department spokesman Const. Tim Fanning who "said a brothel can't legitimize an industry that completely victimizes women. 'These women are not in it by choice,' says Fanning." And it quotes Kler, the Vancouver rape-center woman: "Fundamentally, it's not the laws that kill, beat and rape women, it's men."

Jeff Lee's Sun article adds the voice of Victor Malarek, author of the best-selling book The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade, to the debate. "Malarek," Lee writes, "says the reality is that the 2010 Winter Games will be no different than other Olympics" as regards trafficking and prostitution.

The Stop Trafficking! Newsletter believes that "legalization is no answer to prostitution…it does nothing to restore dignity to the work of performing sex acts on strangers. If it did then the majority of women in legal brothels in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia would not be women from the poorest countries in Easter Europe, Asia and Africa."

I am glad that at least, every once in a while, someone calls attention to what prostitution is. The fundamental fact at its center is that prostitution is sex with strangers. This seems to get lost in all those debates on 'choice.'

Prostitution is not about 'morality.' Prostitution is the overwhelming disgust of sex with strangers. It is having sex forced into you by men you do not know. This is revolting, brutal, and cruel.

I think now might be a good time to pause and debate Ms. Davis idea that she has 'chosen' a lifestyle that involves violence, sexual and otherwise, from clients (rapists — my word for men who buy women).

Since the majority of prostitutes around the world see no 'choice' about what is being done to them at all, and since most want to escape the torture that is this 'profession,' I am afraid that the 2% or so who claim 'choice' cannot speak for the others. And, I ask, who would actually choose drug addiction and 'client' violence as a way of life.

I am afraid, Ms. Davis, that you have no 'right' to 'choose' this is a way of life if it endangers me. And if it promotes a patriarchal system so brutal that it keeps women's bodies in rape hells and drives women, through constant rape and abuse, into insanity, self-mutilate, severe PTSD, etc. etc. — then, sorry, lady, you can't 'choose' to be treated this way. Every time a client mistreats you, he hurts me. Every time any rapist client climbs on a sorry whore body, he is also raping me. You can't choose rape violence from clients and degradation if it endangers me. And it does. I could be next. Teach men, allow men, entitle men to rape sex slaves, and they will rape us all.

The Stop Trafficking! Newsletter (May 2008) also addresses the fact that London is already seeing the traffickers/pimps/ exploiters making their plans for the 2012 Olympics. It says that the government is making its counter-plans "to combat gangs that imprison women and force them into the sex trade." Is this so? I learn from Hilary White's article (Nov 13, 2007 on LifeSiteNews.com) that the "Hampshire Women's Institute, a branch of the UK's largest women's organization," wants to "legalize bordellos" because of the "harm reduction" theory — that famous old idea that the "safety of the ladies," will be improved, in the words of Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, who is all for the scheme. The statement of the UK Hampshire women about all this is quite confusing: "Legalization has worked in other countries where women can work in safety."

The author of the article goes on to tell us: "But anti-trafficking campaigners have warned repeatedly that legalizing prostitution has exactly the opposite of the desired effect. Far from protecting the women, they say, it tends to protect only the men who exploit them, both the pimps and the customers. In addition it breaks down the public perception of prostitution as a danger to women and to society.

"Statistics have shown that in jurisdictions where prostitution has been legalized, such as the Netherlands, governments are reconsidering after rates of child prostitution, sex trafficking and organised crime increased dramatically.

"In addition to the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland and Norway have changed their laws to reflect recent research showing that women in brothels suffer routine violence from customers and pimps."

It is quite depressing when the largest women's group in the UK believes in the fantasy that 'legalizing' will make it okay. I try to understand the psychology and reasoning behind this move on their part. Is it to make themselves feel good about being 'liberal' in regards to prostitution? Is it a desire to simply exile the whore-toilet to a place where no one will notice 'it' as 'it' is legally dumped into by the legal rapists who enter the legal rape-space called legal brothel for legal convenience? I don't think laws ever make the rape of the body 'okay.'

I don't know the state of prostitution debate in the UK right now. I don't know if they are also considering the Swedish model (decriminalize prostitution for the women and punish the john and pimps) or if they are all — politicians and women's groups alike — still back in the dark, hard, cold, miserable stone ages of debating 'legalization.' I know that the Stop Trafficking! Newsletter (May 2008) tells me that "the government has signed a European convention giving human trafficking victims 30 days to stay and recover from their ordeal before deciding whether to help police."

This is astonishing. 30 days? 30 days! 30 days?! To "recover from their ordeal." Thirty days to recover from being raped 20 hours a day as a disposable whore sex-toilet? Thirty days to get over continuous anal rape and nakedness and humiliation and degradation and beatings and terror that no former-whore sex-toilet can even put into words, or even think about for 30 seconds without going insane and self-mutilating. (Whores, sex- toilet whores, prostitutes, the trafficked, whatever label you like, by the way, will self-mutilate due to self-loathing and misery and rage, in case you didn't know. Like the primates in the labs gone insane, so they must rip off their own skin, or as in the case of one monkey — she pulled the intestines from inside her own body, in her insane misery.)

Thirty days? And then they will be all 'better' and help the police to find and punish their torturers? How can they do that when they are ripping the skin off their arms in self-mutilating misery? And how can they identify torturers — the pimps and traffickers and gangs — who will kill them if they speak? And what about the other torturers? What about the 80 British men who all raped one sex-toilet whore on a Christmas day in London and then they must have had a great time back home with their wives and daughters, opening gifts and going off to church to celebrate the holidays. (The figure of 80 comes from a trafficked girl who escaped and told Poppy this number. Poppy is an organization that helps trafficked girls in London.)

Thirty days to recover from being raped by 80 men? This woman reported being raped by 50-60 men on days that weren't Christmas.

So, in thirty days, the sex-toilet whore will be "recovered from her ordeal." Try maybe in 3000 years. Or not even that.

Thirty days to recover from that which can never be recovered from?

I don't think there is any erasing of the self-loathing. Sadly the rapists who did this to us are really the dirty ones, but it doesn't work that way. You cannot ever eliminate the filth and waste they deposited inside. The men feel nothing, except the clean strong manly pride of having raped.

If the girl is supposed to help the police, I wonder what she is supposed to help them with — after this imaginary recovery from her ordeal? Are not her 'other' torturers the British men who raped her? How can she help the police track down the thousands of men who raped her? And would the police ever do this? After all, the men are decent and responsible and they have decent daughters and wives and girlfriends and of course they are fully entitled to take a sperm piss in a worthless whore sex-toilet every once in a while. It is their right as men.

How can the 30-day healed whore-toilet ever bring these kinds of torturers to justice? Some of her rapists are undoubtedly politicians and policemen and lawyers — all the mechanism and pomp and tradition of the law is against her. 'It,' I should say, since 'it,' the whore toilet, has no existence as a human being, no dignity. No safety, or protection. The men took all that away from her and then pretended she was the worthless one.

Of course, I cannot really criticize the UK since, with the exception of Sweden, I cannot think of one country that is doing anything to help the whore sex-toilet. My own country is as full of unpunished rapists and pathetic whore sex-toilets with no recourse as any other. The whole world is full of unpunished rapists and the women and girls they have turned into sex toilets.

"Atrocities: 18,000 Women and Girls Trafficked into the UK Sex Trade." This article in the Independent (July 3, 2008) tells me that "Up to 18,000 females, including girls as young as 14, are working in brothels across Britain after being smuggled into the country to meet the booming demand for prostitutes… Operation Pentameter 2, a six-month campaign by police forces across the country, resulted in the release of 154 women and 13 girls put to work as part of a lucrative trade dominated by organized crime gangs, which increasingly co-operate via the internet to maximize earnings from their victims."

The facts above do not bode well for any controlling of the sale of bodies during the 2012 London Olympics. For one, the use of the web, by pimps, in more sophisticated and insidious way to market their 'merchandize' is increasing astronomically, and is almost unchecked — as yet. Will this method of selling us just grow and grow — with no way of stopping it? And what about the other 17,833 women and girls the police did not 'release'?

If the police can only manage to release such a tiny number, this does not even make a dent in the sex trade. Apparently, there will still be plenty to sell to the sex tourists during the London Olympics, and plenty of 14-year-old Albanian (or Ukrainian or Moldovan) girls hidden in Soho brothels for British men to rape 20 hours a day.

I do notice that the wording of the Independent article is very different from what one would find in a news story in the USA. The Independent speaks of 'releasing' the girls. In the USA, the girls are 'arrested.' Then they are 'tried' for the terrible crime they have committed by allowing themselves to be raped 20 hours a day. Then they are either put in jail or 'deported.' Their pimps and owners are 'released.' And absolutely nothing at all is done to their client-rapists.

So, I sit and watch the Beijing Olympics. Helpless. I watch all those huge muscled female swimmers swinging their big muscled arms and I watch all those tough female cyclists grinding their way through the Chinese mountains.

This vision of 'strong' women does not cheer me much since they do not appear to be making any effort to help the frail and the helpless. I have to remind myself that the purpose of these women swimmers and cyclists is not to provide sex for strangers. They have a 'higher purpose.'

Depressed, I switch the channel and it's the Food Network and I see Anthony Bourdain, Prime Carnivore, sitting at a low Japanese table and being served by bowing, timid, mincing, revoltingly submissive geisha — women so artificial and grotesque even a stuffed doll has more authentic 'life' in her. I am so tired of living in a world where women are submissive and made only to serve men.

"Women is a frail thing, for all of her strength." The strong female athletes at the Olympics would have all the power taken from them if the Albanian mafia got hold of them and decided to break them. This mafia breaks women more efficiently than any other organization in the world. They break and re-break and rape and re-rape and beat and burn and pound and inflict more savage anal sex on that poor 14-year-old than she can count. Until she is ready for the Soho brothel. Completely submissive and without will or desire or existence. She is now ready to be raped 20 hours a day by British men and Olympic sex tourists. Maybe she is the strong one because she is still alive. I know I wouldn't be. I would have found a way not just to self-mutilate but slash my own throat on the nearest sharp object after just the first 20-hour rape session.

I watched the women cyclists moving through the rain and through those misty grey-green mountains in China. I heard commentators extol the Forbidden City, with its generations of emperors with their concubines and slaves, and listened to all the garbage about how spiritual China is. All that I saw, on that day, when the strong women cyclists battled the rain and the mountains, was a lot of forlorn, tortured ghosts rising from the valley below.