Report on the 2010 Soccer World Cup and Sex Work: Documenting Successes and Failures
Report on the 2010 Soccer World Cup and Sex Work: Documenting Successes and Failures. FMSP Research Report. 1-12.(2010).
South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup has been lauded as a great success. Popular opinion has emphasized the good will, nation-building and the legacy that this international event has generated. South Africa should be proud of itself in many ways.
Yet, a much marginalised population has once again been overlooked despite civil society attempts to bring it into mainstream concern. Sex workers have borne the brunt of city “clean-up” drives, increased violence and insensitive public health campaigns, while falling victim to government-created “Vice Squads”. The World Cup has left many sex workers in a weaker position than before and resulted in a public misconception that sex work and trafficking are intertwined.
South Africa’s growing anticipation and anxiety to host the World Cup in June – July 2010 had been closely tied to a preoccupation with sex work, and often its erroneous conflation with trafficking. Fears about the spread of HIV often formed the backdrop to this preoccupation, while mounting anxiety was expressed about violations of South African women and children by “foreigners”. In light of the concerns about HIV, the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Women’s Sector raised the World Cup and sex work as an important issue that SANAC had to take on. In August 2009, the Women’s Sector led the establishment of an “Intersectoral Working Group on Sex Work” to canvass the issue of decriminalisation of sex work and preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup within SANAC. In addition, an electronic reference group consisting of 30+ international and South African-based researchers, health practitioners, lawyers, sex workers and advocates was established to advise the Working Group on sex work, public health and human rights in view of the World Cup.
In November 2009, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), SANAC and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) hosted a consultation on Sex Work and the 2010 Soccer World Cup (‘the November Consultation’). Fifty delegates representing sex worker organisations, human rights advocates, public health researchers, government and the media attended. The aim of this workshop was to draw upon good practice models and the experience of those who had held major events in both Africa and other parts of the world and learn from how they address sex worker concerns.
The Consultation noted the anxiety about sex work, HIV and the increase in international tourists to South Africa during the World Cup period and discussed the dangers that are attached to the conflation of sex work and trafficking, and other common misconceptions. The theme for the consultation was ‘Human Rights, Public Health, Soccer and Beyond’. International guest speakers from New Zealand, Ghana and Germany provided expert input on pragmatic strategies on sex work, the law and big sporting events. Sex worker delegates drew attention to the on-going abuse of human rights in the context of sex work and the criminal law.
Over the two days of discussion, the Consultation forged a number of strategies that could address the fears surrounding the World Cup period, and have a long-term impact on sex worker rights in South Africa. These recommendations are contained in Appendix A of this report.
After the Consultation, these recommendations were disseminated throughout SANAC. The SANAC Women’s Sector and the Intersectoral Working Group worked closely with the SANAC Sports & Entertainment Sector to engage FIFA on its recommendations. When there was little response to the Consultation recommendations by FIFA, SANAC and government, a letter was sent in March 2010 to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, SANAC Deputy-chairperson Mr Mark Heywood and SANAC CEO, Dr Nono Simelela. These leaders were urged to support the call for a moratorium on sex work related arrests during the World Cup period, adopt the recommendations of the November Consultation as well as deal with the outstanding issues within SANAC on sex workers in relation to the National Strategic Plan 2007-2011 (the NSP). Sadly, no response was received nor any action taken.
Indeed, apathy towards the increased dangers that sex workers faced because of World Cup preparations and activity was common place. Neither government, nor FIFA, nor the SANAC Plenary responded to calls to implement measures that would protect sex worker rights and did not implement a single sex work-specific programme during the World Cup.
Supported by: SWEAT; SANAC Women’s Sector.
Full Publication Detail
|Title||Report on the 2010 Soccer World Cup and Sex Work: Documenting Successes and Failures|
|Year of Publication||2010|
|Authors||Richter, M., Harper E., & Massawe D.|
|Series Title||FMSP Research Report|
|Publisher||Forced Migration Studies Programme|