World Cup fever is gaining momentum in Germany with just three months to go to kick-off. Across the host country, all manner of merchandise is on sale. But it is the nature of some of the services available to visiting football fans that is an increasing cause for concern. It is feared the event will attract tens of thousands of illegal prostitutes from Eastern Europe. And campaigners believe many of those selling sex will not be doing so of their own free will.
Brunhilde Raiser from the National Women’s Council said it could be deduced that “there will also be women and girls who are being forced to work by those involved in human trafficking.” Prostitution is not against the law in Germany and brothels are gearing up for boom times. It is reckoned large numbers of male spectators will choose to wind down after a match in the arms of a working girl. “Ella” from Eastern Europe is based at a brothel in Hamburg. She is looking forward to some lucrative trade. “All the women are happy. Me, too. I like to work. I like to come here every day. So, welcome!,” she said. Nonetheless, efforts to raise awareness about forced prostitution are underway in Germany, with a particular resonance today – International Women’s Day.