January 21, 2009 / 1:27 PM / 10 years ago

London Olympic mega-brothels a worry for clerics

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Church of England dioceses are to call for a government crackdown on human trafficking in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics to prevent a repeat of the “mega brothels” set up in German cities for the 2006 World Cup.

A prostitute says goodbye to a guest at the infamous brothel 'Hotel Luxor' at the Reeperbahn red-light district in Hamburg March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

Church members will discuss the matter at a General Synod next month following a motion set down by the dioceses of Newcastle and Winchester.

“We do not want this same kind of thing for London 2012,” said the Revd. Canon Michael Webb of Newcastle Diocese.

“Anything like slavery is wrong, but as Christians we are concerned that this is not how God treats people.”

The dioceses called for the government, police and officials to combat the “evil trade” of trafficking and forced prostitution through legislation and enforcement.

They pointed to the World Cup in Germany, where, they said, city officials adopted a “pragmatic” approach toward catering for the sexual desires of the estimated three million football fans who attended the tournament.

“Sex huts” or “sex garages” for prostitution were set up, filled with 40,000 extra prostitutes, while special licenses were issued allowing prostitutes to offer sex on the street, they said in a background paper.

Some studies however suggested that prostitution levels may have in fact decreased during the World Cup.

The dioceses also pointed to a campaign to legalize prostitution and brothels in South Africa in time for the 2010 World Cup.

“We wish to support and encourage H.M. Government to do everything in its power to ensure that nothing like this is allowed to happen in our cities,” the dioceses added.

Up to 10,000 men and women, sometimes including children as young as 10, are traded in the UK each year, the dioceses added, with each girl worth up to 150,000 pounds a year to those who “own” her.

During the 2008 Euro football tournament in Switzerland, campaigners ran shocking images of human trafficking in between traditional adverts for beer, food and consumer goods to alert people of the harm and dangers involved.

Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry) said initial risk assessments have recognized potential risks created by London holding the Olympic Games.

“We are aware that the preparations for the London Olympics in 2012 could attract criminals who seek to profit from the fact that hospitality, catering and construction workers are required as well as the risk of an increase in prostitution, including those who have been trafficked,” it said in a statement.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby, editing by Paul Casciato

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