With all the concerns involving security, housing, venues and more that surround hosting the Olympic Games, one potential problem has a tendency to slip through the cracks: prostitution.
According to the BBC, former Minister for the Olympics Tessa Jowell told the Metro Police Authority back in January of 2010 that she would not stand for women being trafficked to London in search of business.
“Major sporting events can be a magnet for the global sex and trafficking industry; this is wholly unacceptable,” Jowell said. “I am determined that traffickers will not exploit London 2012.”
During the Athens Olympics in 2004, it is believed that the number of known human trafficking victims almost doubled. Those numbers have been widely disputed, but that event certainly raised awareness about the potential problems events of a similar scale could face with regard to prostitution. Studies have found that prostitution is a significant issue during the World Cup as well.
Based on what he claims he saw at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, world famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof said he fully expects a large amount of women to be shipped to London by gangs and other illegal organizations.
“(I expect) 1,000 girls to be trafficked in by South East Asian, Albanian and African gangs, violent gangs involved in crime and drugs,” Hof said.
Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff says raids on brothels have increased as the Olympics approach, and that 80 have been closed in the Olympic borough of Newham in the past 20 months. Police deny that there has been any increased “crackdown” on brothels in the Olympic boroughs.
Reported cases of prostitution at actual sporting events is low. At the Rugby World Cup, it certainly sounds like it was a real thing. For the most part, speculation about women being trafficked into a country is the driving force behind the preparations and precautions. The media have been accused of sensationalizing the issue, but obviously officials in London feel strongly enough about it that they are taking steps to address it.
Photo credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans