House Committee Approves Legislation Urging German Gov't to Combat Trafficking of Women at World Cup
As the World Cup soccer championship advances to the quarterfinal round this week, a powerful congressional committee in Washington took a decisive step of its own and approved legislation urging the Government of Germany, host of the games, to do more to combat sexual trafficking of women in connection with the influx of athletes and fans in Germany for the soccer tournament.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the legislation (H.Res 860) and Vice-Chairman of the House International Relations Committee said, "There is an inherent contradiction in Germany's policies. On the one hand, the German government says it wants to reduce exploitation of women through anti-trafficking programs, but at the same time its legalization of prostitution fuels the demand for sexual services which inevitably results in the exploitation of women, mostly from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union."
Smith's resolution, H. Res. 860, comes as millions of fans are attending the World Cup soccer matches in Germany. In anticipation of this massive event, Germany's legal sex-trade industry has expanded its capacities to accommodate the greater demand. Both the European Parliament and the European Union's Council of Justice and Home Affairs have also adopted measures urging their member states to take actions to prevent trafficking in connection with major international events.
"The resolution, supported unanimously by Republicans and Democrats alike on the International Relations Committee, is a clear call to the German government to denounce the practices of human trafficking and prostitution, and to do everything in its power to combat the exploitation of women and children," said Smith, who is the author of the landmark US law to combat human trafficking and two subsequent laws enhancing law enforcement tools to combat trafficking and to increase services for the victims.
"Pimping and maintaining brothels provide a façade behind which sex traffickers can hide and operate," he said. "Because Germany has legalized prostitution, cities hosting World Cup games and so-called business people' are free to accommodate this degrading trade in women by constructing brothels and sex huts,' or issue permits for street prostitution, thereby creating a virtual partnership with brothel owners, pimps and traffickers."
As chairman of the Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Relations subcommittee, Representative Smith has held two hearings in recent weeks bringing added scrutiny and pressure upon the German government. Victims testified as to how they had been defrauded, coerced, and held captive in the "legalized" sex trade in Germany and expressed their fears that many more women will be victimized as the sex trade in Germany geared up for the soccer games.
"Legalized prostitution is not a policy that the German Government has to embrace. Germany can, and must, do much more to prevent the sexual exploitation of women and children by attacking the demand that fuels this problem."
The Smith resolution calls on the German government to take additional steps to combat sex trafficking and to take measures to discourage the demand that fosters exploitation. H. Res. 860 also encourages countries throughout Europe to vigorously support public awareness campaigns about the potential for trafficking in human beings in response to the rising demand. The legislation also urges athletes and coaches of teams to denounce the sexual exploitation of women and girls and to encourage prevention of trafficking in human beings.
"Our message may be getting through," Smith said. "A June 23rd report on the Reuters wire indicates that men who have descended on Germany for the World Cup are proving a disappointment for the host nation's sex workers."
"Let's hope that's the case" Smith said "and fewer women are being victimized."