Vatican Assails Sex Industry at World Cup

Prelate Says German Authorities Are Responsible

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A Holy See representative denounced the prostitution industry that will loom in the background of the World Cup soccer competition in Germany.



Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, told Vatican Radio that behind the phenomenon of prostitution is the trafficking in human beings.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe warns that 30,000 to 60,000 women and girls will fall victim to forced prostitution and abuse during the World Cup.

Prostitution was legalized in Germany in 2002. The sex industry has prepared for the expected influx of 3 million soccer fans by constructing mega-brothels and "sex shacks," with private parking, showers and the promise to maintain clients' privacy.

Speaking in soccer terms, Archbishop Marchetto said that "several red cards should be taken out against this industry, its clients and the public authorities that host the event."

"Prostitution, in fact, violates the dignity of the human person, making the latter an object and instrument of sexual pleasure," he lamented. "Women become merchandise that can be purchased, whose cost is even lower than a ticket to a soccer match."

Some of these women "are obliged to exercise this 'profession' against their will, for this reason they are the object of trafficking," the archbishop added.

Many organizations, including Amnesty International, religious congregations, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, have denounced this practice, and the Vatican official stressed the responsibility of the "German authorities."

"The ball is in their court," he said.

Religious active

A year ago, the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers organized a world conference on prostitution and human trafficking.

Its final declaration stated that the Church must assume the defense of the legitimate rights of these women, promoting their liberation and also supporting their formation financially.

In this context, many women's religious congregations are already working in Germany to help women who might become victims of mafia networks or pressures of another type.

Already active, in particular, is the ecclesial organization Solidarity with Women in Distress, which brings together some 20 religious congregations. The group offers a range of services in hospitality centers, including safe housing and educational and work integration programs.

Archbishop Marchetto, 65, said that the exploited women should receive aid from the authorities to be reintegrated "through a temporary or permanent residence permit. Moreover, they should be able to access dignified work and forms of recompense."

"Initiatives of this kind are necessary to restore dignity," he insisted. "This induces to applying the law and to punishing those who benefit from the sex industry and traffickers. The latter should be hunted down and punished with financial penalties."