An estimated 3 million fans from around the world will attend the games, and vast numbers of them are expected to buy sex as a form of entertainment. As many as 40,000 additional women are expected to be added to the approximately 400,000 women in Germany’s sex industry. Germans are accommodating the trade in women by facilitating the construction of mega-brothels and "sex huts," and cities hosting the games will issue special permits for street prostitution, creating a virtual partnership with brothel owners, pimps and traffickers.
Representative Smith does not specify the "children at risk" and the "vast numbers" of soccer fans who are expected to buy sex during the World Cup from June 9-July 9.
The spokesperson of the Sozialdienstes katholischer Frauen in Köln said those "sex huts" have existed for five years and protect prostitutes against violence and drugs and help them to leave the business.
The U.S. and the German approach towards prostitution are fundamentally different. The Congressman considers not only sex trafficking, but also the legalization of prostitution in Germany outragous. The legalization supporters believe that criminalizing of prostitution would increase underground prostitution with even more severe abuses of the prostitutes, while legalization gives at least some protection (legal protection against non-paying customers, health care, social security, unions). Wikipedia has a lot of info and links about Prostitution in Germany. NYT Columnist Nicholas Kristof considers the issue of the legalization of prostitution not that important. The real issue is sex trafficking. He praises President Bush for making a "historic contribution: he is devoting much more money and attention to human trafficking than his predecessors." (Access to column only for subscribers.)
According to the Guardian, Representative Smith accused the German government of "facilitating prostitution":
Brothels in Germany, where prostitution is legal, are expecting a big increase in trade during the World Cup and concerns have been raised that vulnerable women could be forced into prostitution to meet the expected demand. "It is an outrage that the German government is currently facilitating prostitution and we believe women who will be exploited will be treated as commodities," Smith, a Republican, said in a statement. President Bush has very strong views on this issue and will make them known to the German chancellor, who will be asked to step up for women who are about to be exploited.It is not known, whether President Bush did indeed bring up this issue during Chancellor Merkel's recent visit. President Bush certainly did not mention it in his press conference with Merkel or in his interviews with German TV and a tabloid, which were all full of praise and free of any criticism of Germany. While Angela Merkel told President Bush on her first visit as chancellor in January that Guantanamo should be closed, President Bush did not publicly tell Merkel that the "World Cup Brothels" should be closed.
Chairman Smith told the Congress hearing (pdf):
I was joined by other European parliamentarians who were sobered by the expectation that, especially since the matches are being held in Germany which legalized pimping and prostitution in 2001, the World Cup fans would be legally free to rape women in brothels or even in mobile units designed specifically for this form of exploitation. Of the approximately 400,000 prostitutes in Germany, it is estimated that 75 percent of those who are abused in these houses of prostitution are foreigners, many from Central andThe written testimonies and a video of the hearing are available here (filed under May 4, 2006). I don't know if the German government was indeed listening. I did not find a public response.
Eastern Europe. (...)
According to the BKA (the German Federal Criminal Investigation Office) annual report in 2001, an inquiry of 414 trafficked women revealed that 45% were forced into prostitution through violence, torture, rape or intimidation. Research conducted by Melissa Farley at Prostitution Research & Education found that 71% of women surveyed were physically assaulted while engaged in prostitution and 89% wanted to escape prostitution.
I am aware that the German Government is supporting public awareness efforts regarding trafficking for forced prostitution in the context of the World Cup. This is a somewhat absurd effort given that the infrastructure of legalized prostitution allowed in Germany is gearing up to expand its capacity during the World Cup and there is every reason to believe that the "new recruits" into prostitution will be trafficked women and girls. I see this as flagrant state complicity in promoting sex trafficking. (...)
I look forward to hearing the perspective of the witnesses today. I hope that the German Government is listening, too.
There was not much German media coverage of Representative Smith's charges of human rights violations, let alone a significant public debate. Most papers just printed a short wire report. The Hamburger Morgenpost, the leftist tageszeitung, and the conservative Welt and others wrote a bit more.
Alleged CIA rendition flights and other alleged U.S. human rights abuses appear to be more popular topics in the German media than sex trafficking.
There was, however, significant coverage in the United States, for example in the Charlotte Observer:
"The sad and disturbing news is that the German government currently is facilitating prostitution," Smith said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "There will be a very significant influx of trafficked women who will be exploited. They will be raped as a direct result of their having been trafficked into Germany for the World Cup event."
Prostitution was legalized in designated areas in Germany as of 2002. About 400,000 people are registered as full- or part-time employees in the sex trade; bordellos are regulated and the prostitutes pay taxes and are entitled to government benefits.
In anticipation of the World Cup, scheduled June 9-July 9, cities where the games will be played plan to provide special licenses for additional sex workers. Some have been planning temporary "sex huts" to accommodate the increased demand from patrons, and in Berlin, sponsors are being sought to distribute some 100,000 condoms near the soccer stadium. (...)
At the Washington news conference, Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Convention said the decision by German authorities to accommodate rather than clamp down on the pimps, johns and prostitutes is "immoral and reprehensible" and represents a "total disregard for the young girls and women whose lives are stolen from them." (...)
Martina Nibbeling-Wriessnig, a spokeswoman for the German Embassy in Washington, said prostitution was legalized in Germany so women could get medical screening and have legal remedies if they are abused. She said there may be foreign women coming into the country for the World Cup, but suggested that estimates of 40,000 new arrivals reported are nonsense.
RELATED: Bret Stephens, member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, writes in the WSJ about arranged marriages:
They are called Die Fremden Bräute--the foreign brides. This year, thousands of teenage girls, very few past the age of consent, will arrive in Germany from Turkey for arranged marriages and lives of domestic servitude enforced by tradition, isolation and fear. It's a thriving one-way trade that has been going on for more than three decades, and it sits at the core of Europe's greatest predicament today: the widening gulf between an increasingly postmodern society and its often premodern immigrants.UPDATE: The Knight Ridder Wire (via Blognjus) reports:
Stopping human trafficking was one of the reasons that Germany legalized prostitution. The logic was that by legitimizing the trade, it would become safer and healthier. But a United Nations report on human trafficking released last month still rated Germany "very high" as a destination for women forced into sex work, and some of those who supported legalization are reconsidering.
"I was with my party, the Greens, when we pushed for legalization," said Hiltrud Breyer, a German member of the European Parliament. "We really believed it would bring the profession out of the shadows and improve lives. I'm rethinking that position."
In Germany, as in the rest of the world, prostitution is big business, with annual revenues estimated at 14.5 billion euro, or $18 billion - slightly more than those of Karstadt, the nation's largest department-store chain." (...)
"The idea behind the change in legislation was, I believe, that prostitutes should be able to leave the `gray zone' of semi-illegality and be registered and have social insurance like other professions," Fitzgerald (who works with Solidarity With Women in Distress) said. "Reality has since shown that very few prostitutes are officially registered and the police have practically no way of justifying brothel raids, so that now fewer victims of trafficking are actually discovered."
Since Representative Smith spoke about rapes: There have been three times more rapes per 100.000 inhabitants in the United States than in Germany in 2004 according to statistics from the FBI and BKA, which is the German equivalent of the FBI.