Nuns, backed by pope, warn of human trafficking at World Cup

Tue May 20, 2014 10:58am EDT
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Roman Catholic nuns backed by Pope Francis on Tuesday raised the alarm over increased risks of human trafficking, exploitation of workers, forced prostitution and sexual tourism at the soccer World Cup in Brazil next month.

The nuns, whose campaign is also backed by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican, announced an international campaign called "Play in Favour of Life - Denounce Human Trafficking," on the risks they say will be associated with the June 12 - July 13 tournament.

"We need to make people conscious of what happens on the margins of big world events such as the FIFA World Cup and the suffering of those who are trafficked," said Sister Carmen Sammut, a Maltese nun and one of the campaign organizers.

"Without this awareness, without acting together in favor of human dignity, the World Cup finals may turn out to be a terrible shame instead of a feast for humanity," she told a news conference at the Vatican.

Sammut said the initiative had the full backing of Pope Francis, an avid Argentine soccer fan who has called several conferences at the Vatican to study ways of combating human trafficking.

Sister Gabriella Bottani, an Italian nun who works in Brazil, said human traffickers and others took advantage of large events like the World Cup to exploit the most vulnerable.

She said young people from the countryside are lured with the promise of a job and forced into prostitution. Children in rural areas may be kidnapped and taken to cities hosting the venues and forced to beg.

Others who are already being exploited as sex workers may be forced to move to one of the 12 venue cities because they would be more profitable to their pimps.   Continued...

 
Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called "Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking," on the risks they say will be associated with the June-July games, as they pose in front of Saint Peter's basilica in Rome May 20 2014.  REUTERS/Tony Gentile