beware of 2010 'sex tourists'

AN international child trafficking expert has warned that the government needs to take urgent steps now to prevent child trafficking and sexual exploitation during the 2010 World Cup.

AN international child trafficking expert has warned that the government needs to take urgent steps now to prevent child trafficking and sexual exploitation during the 2010 World Cup.

American law professor Susan Kreston, currently based at the University of Free State, says the government must pass the Human Trafficking Bill as soon as possible.

"Whereas 99 percent of the fans are coming here for good and valid purposes, one percent will use the World Cup as a shield, to go out looking for street children to exploit sexually," Kreston said.

She was speaking in Cape Town on Friday at a panel discussion on child prostitution and the 2010 World Cup.

Kreston said it would be easier for paedophiles to get "lost in the confusion" of 500000 soccer fans descending on SA and advised parents to be on the lookout.

"Kids will be out of school and with many parents still at work, this will create a dynamic where things might not be noticed."

She said school children should be made aware that "when people offer them work related to 2010, they should not accept without telling their parents first".

Preston said SA, with its booming conference and tourism industry, had become a popular destination for "child sex tourists" - who rape or abuse children and then fly back home.

Western Cape Street Children's Forum director Paul Hooper said there were no state services to help the 250 "hardened street children" in Cape Town who are addicted to heavy drugs and are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Eric Harper of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force (Sweat) said adult prostitutes had been reporting more children selling sex on the streets.

Public prosecutor Garry Titus said the "huge turnover of prosecutors and loss of skilled personnel" were obstacles for the NPA in cracking down on child trafficking syndicates.

The Department for Social Development's Nomfundo Nabela said it was difficult for social workers to uncover child trafficking. "We sense child trafficking is hidden behind something else," she said.

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