Olympics prostitution triggers London STD explosion (so they say…)
In January 2010 Tessa Jowell, then Minister for the Olympics in the previous government, told MPs:
“Major sporting events can be a magnet for the global sex and trafficking industry; this is wholly unacceptable. I am determined that traffickers will not exploit London 2012.”
While Britain’s limp economy hopes for an Olympic boost, police in Newham, the deprived east London borough that is home to the stadium, have closed some 80 brothels in the 18 months to March, according to a study by a local councillor.
“For the last two years we’ve seen a real increase in police activity in relation to sex work in the Olympic host boroughs,” said Georgina Perry, who runs Open Doors, a government project supporting east London prostitutes.
But the sex trade looks likely to miss out on any benefits, campaigners say…Scotland Yard has said there is no evidence that prostitution has risen in east London ahead of the Games.
An expert tells us:
“It’s a family event — it’s not like all the visitors are going to be single men,” said Catherine Stephens, sheltering from the drizzle in London’s Soho red light district.
“It’s going to be a complete nightmare, and I think we’re all going to lose masses of money,” added Stephens, who has worked in brothels for more than a decade.
“I don’t think we’re going to see the clientele we normally see, because it’s going to be so difficult to get around. Most of the people I know are planning to take a couple of weeks off.”
The Metropolitan Police Service’s Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command (SCD9) is the subject of a Met Police Authority report highlighting “intelligence currently held does not support any increase in prostitution in the Olympic Boroughs and actually shows a decrease in some locations”.
Or as the Daily Mail puts it:
Fears that prostitution and sex trafficking will rise in the capital during the Olympics are growing, as it emerged escort agencies are adopting the Olympic name, laying on extra women and offering special ‘gold medal services’.
Sex trafficking almost doubled during the 2004 Athens Olympics, and there were reports of sex attacks in the athletes’ village at Sydney in 2000.
Or as the BBC notes:
The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens seems to be the first major international sporting event to have invoked widespread warnings about a rise in prostitutes and sex workers. It is often reported to have seen its sex trafficking almost doubling.
However, a report by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) shows the number of cases in Athens during the whole of 2004 was 181, up from 93 in 2003 – a far cry from the many thousands of women said to be threatened by trafficking in these situations.
None of these 181 cases were linked to the Games by Greek authorities.
The English Collective of Prostitutes writes:
70 brothel raids from Jan 2010-Aug 2010 in the five Olympic boroughs
33 raids in Westminster and Camden over same period
Remaining 25 London boroughs had 29 “visits” or “raids” in that time
Equates to 1.16 raids/visits per London borough compared with 14 per Olympic borough
SCD9 say there are two types of raids and many are actually a visit to a property
1,036 arrests for prostitution-related offences for whole Met Police area in 2010/11 (April March)
485 arrested in 2011/12
155 arrests for prostitution-related offences in five Olympic boroughs in 2010/11
116 arrests in those boroughs in 2011/12
Sources: Silence on Violence report, Met Police
Still, the Olympics are coming. So, let’s crank up the fear. Frank Ferudi writes of a press release that came his way:
It says ‘women could be put at risk as the 2012 Olympics sparks an explosion in the demand for prostitutes’. Apparently hordes of sex-hungry sports fans are ‘expected to fuel a spectacular boom in the sex industry’.
And that’s just for starters. Health experts have added their two-bit thoughts, warning that this surge in demand for sex could ‘increase the spread of sexually transmitted infections’. Not to be outdone, British police report their fear that thousands of female sex workers are being ‘illegally smuggled into Britain to feed the lucrative demand’.
Maybe the organisers should just make kerb crawling and street walking Olympic sports? It might help clean up the popular image of the IOC…