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 CNS Story:

CUP-WOMEN May-10-2006 (560 words) xxxi

Polish nuns issue anti-prostitution leaflets for World Cup

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Polish nuns, anticipating an increase in human trafficking and prostitution during the World Cup in Germany, have issued anti-prostitution leaflets in multiple languages for circulation during the competition.

"Our resources are extremely limited, but we're doing what we can," said Ursuline Sister Jolanta Olech, president of Poland's Conference of Superiors of Female Religious Orders. "We're deeply concerned at reports that men's lives are to be made nicer by importing 100,000 young women from Europe's poorest countries."

Plans for the leaflets were approved in late April, and in a May 5 interview with Catholic News Service, Sister Jolanta said the Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors had asked national organizations to campaign against prostitution during the World Cup, the world's largest soccer tournament, which will be held in 12 German cities June 9-July 9.

Sister Jolanta said the leaflets were being supported by Caritas in Poland and would be circulated in Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian and other languages and would list telephone numbers for women seeking help.

"We don't have contacts with those directly engaged in this trade, but there are signs the message is getting through," Sister Jolanta said. "A woman at risk who has a few seconds to memorize the number can get in touch with us, while those going for the work may think twice. But the leaflets should also affect prostitutes' clients, so they'll know some of these women have been forced into sex by criminals."

In February, international nongovernmental organizations and the German police union launched a campaign, "Red Card for Forced Prostitution," against human trafficking during the World Cup. The event is expected to attract 3 million sports fans.

Germany's National Council of Women, a co-sponsor, said national players will be asked to support the initiative in the country, where prostitution is legal.

Meanwhile, the president of the German Police Union, Konrad Freiberg, told Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle that anti-trafficking measures will be coordinated with other European forces as part of general security.

In 2005, the German government passed legislation to increase penalties for crimes related to human trafficking.

German newspapers have reported that wooden "sex huts," equipped with condoms and showers, had been erected for the World Cup in Dortmund and Cologne, which already houses a 12-story brothel, Europe's largest, with 120 rooms for rent. The newspapers reported that a $4 million brothel had recently opened in Berlin to accommodate up to 100 prostitutes and 650 male clients.

A background memorandum prepared for a U.S. congressional committee hearing on the World Cup and human trafficking said that "Germany is generally viewed as one the leading countries in combating human trafficking."

The memo, prepared in part by members of the Congressional Research Service, said that, since prostitution is legal in Germany, European governmental, nongovernmental and church officials have expressed concern that prostitutes from other countries will come to Germany in large numbers during the World Cup.

The memo said the German government has said some estimates of the number of expected prostitutes were wildly exaggerated and said the number 40,000 had been "plucked from the air." It said some experts and officials believe the human trafficking numbers might actually be lower than during other periods due to the heightened security and preventive measures by Germany and its neighbors.

END


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