Fighting Sexual Exploitation During World Cup

Congregations Mobilize Against Human Trafficking

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ROME, MAY 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Union of European Conferences of Major Superiors is supporting initiatives of some women's religious congregations against sexual exploitation during this summer's World Cup competition in Germany.



Catholic associations that work with women at risk estimate that 40,000 young prostitutes, many of them from Eastern countries, will arrive in Germany during the soccer championship, according to the UCESM's secretary-general, Sister Annick Bimbenet.

These associations oppose sexual tourism and the trafficking of women.

They explain that many of these women, in addition to entering Germany illegally, are forced into prostitution and, out of fear and the pressure exerted on them, tell the police and social-service agencies that they engage in prostitution voluntarily.

"Red Card to Sexual Exploitation and Forced Prostitution" is the motto of the campaign under way to help these women.

Preventive measures are already being taken in the women's native countries, including campaigns to sensitize European public opinion. In addition, a telephone line has been opened to help women who ask for assistance. The phone line will function 24 hours a day during the World Cup.

UCESM, the Conferences of Men and Women Religious of Germany, the Catholic Feminine Alliance, and the Catholic Women's Community of Germany are supporting and channeling all the action through Solidarity of Women in Distress. The latter embraces about 20 feminine religious congregations.

To carry these initiatives forward, the UCESM, through Solidarity of Women in Distress, is appealing for financial aid and calling on women religious who speak English, French, Russian or Romanian and who will be available to assist in this endeavor during the summer.

More information is available through solwodi@t-online.de.