A (normally rather dubious ) British newspaper has reported on the story of 14 year old Winnie Khumalo, just one of the estimated 10,000 child prostitutes said to be working around the districts of the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. The article draws light to concerns about possible increases in trafficking cases around the 2010 World Cup, hosted in South Africa. Winnie said that she has been a prostitute since she was 11 years old, when she left her town near Port Shepstone in search of work as a housemaid. She was picked up on the way by a man working for a brothel owner, and was lured with promises of friendship and care. A few days after they met he trapped her in a room, forced her to consume alcohol and raped her. He would beat her when she tried to refuse. She is now forced to sleep with up to twenty men a day and says that she is sure many similar young girls from villages will be lured into host cities such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, with the hope of finding a job such as a waitress or cleaner – and instead may face a fate of sexual exploitation.
The South African Professional Society On The Abuse of Children released statistics on child abuse suggesting that around 530 child rapes occur every day in South Africa, however less than 60 of these are reported. Children are thought to be the victims of 45% of all rape cases across the nation. These alarming statistics concerning sexual exploitation of children are also interconnected with issues concerning HIV, gun and knife violence, and trafficking.
The Head of Security for the World Cup is working alongside intelligence agencies in order to strategically plan and prepare for the possible rise in trafficking and child abuse that may coincide with the World Cup, however this is also in light of calls this Summer from some officials to legalise prostitution in South Africa for the duration of the games. Already properties in the host cities are rumoured to be being bought up brothel owners, who groom young girls from external countries in places as far afield as Eastern Europe and Thailand. The voice of one sexually exploited girl echoes clear – “If any young girl thinks coming to Johannesburg in 2010 will bring her happiness, she should think again.”
Despite these concerns, international and national, governmental and non-governmental agencies are all gearing up to prepare for the potential problems surrounding the World Cup. Watch this space for updates on the situation.