Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2008
Vancouver Olympics committee must prevent human trafficking
“Performance boxes designed to accommodate 650 clients of sex workers were built near the main venue in Berlin.”
- - Les Soeurs
de la Congregation
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Les Soeurs de la Congregation de Notre-Dame de Montreal want to make sure the 2010 Winter Olympics do not become a venue for human trafficking.
The congregation’s leadership committee wrote a strongly-worded letter to Vancouver Olympics organizing committee (VANOC) board chair Jack Poole Jan. 25, urging him to prevent the surge in trafficking that has accompanied previous Olympics and international sports events.
Disgrace in Greece
The letter notes that the level of human trafficking to Greece doubled before the 2004 Athens Olympics. “As well, it was astounding to learn that at the World Football Cup 2006, ‘performance boxes’ designed to accommodate 650 clients of sex workers were built near the main venue in Berlin.”
“Recruiting, trafficking or forcing human beings to prostitute themselves should never be associated with sport,” the sisters wrote.
The letter comes at a time when the Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is entertaining a proposal by local prostitutes to set up special brothels to accommodate visitors.
Montreal Gazette columnist Janet Bagnall wrote a recent column that echoed the congregation’s concerns. “This bizarre notion that laws on prostitution should be altered, even temporarily, to accommodate the sexual desires of fans at large sporting events is not unique to British Columbia,” she wrote.
Bagnall cited reports that 40,000 women and children were trafficked into Germany to service World Cup fans, despite efforts of organizers to steer fans towards “voluntary” prostitutes. She cites reports that 90 per cent of sex trade workers are forced into prostitution.
The Notre-Dame sisters urge efforts be made to “deter potential sex users with effective public education campaigns.”
They also suggest special training for border guards and police so they can identify trafficked persons, and the provision of services for victims.
The Congregation represents about 2,000 sisters and associates in Canada, the United States, Japan, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, France and Cameroon.