'Children in danger'

SCHOOLCHILDREN are in danger of being exploited by unscrupulous elements during the 2010 World Cup.

SCHOOLCHILDREN are in danger of being exploited by unscrupulous elements during the 2010 World Cup.

Organisations, including the National Prosecuting Authority, are worried that children in host cities such as Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Cape Town are in danger of being used for prostitution, child pornography and cheap labour.

This emerged at a seminar at Safa House in Johannesburg yesterday on child trafficking and its impact on the World Cup.

Patric Solomon, of non-governmental organisation Molo Songololo, said an assessment of the impact of the World Cup on children indicated that the "sought after" global event would create conditions that would increase the demand for and supply of sexual services, and put children at risk of being sexually exploited.

"In addition to refugees and street children, the June 2010 school holidays raise concerns over unattended children as children will roam around and are particularly vulnerable during school holidays," Solomon said.

He said there was a need for special programmes to keep children occupied during this period.

There were also concerns over relaxed visa requirements for travel within the region as traffickers could make use of thisopportunity.

World Cup head of security Linda Mti said his organisation was working with intelligence agencies "to ensure that those unsavoury elements" were identified.

The Department of Social Development said it had a Child Protection Action Plan, which would be fully operational in March.

The NPA's advocate Thoko Majokweni said the key trafficking industries were the sex trade, drug trafficking (mules), hospitality, entertainment and domestic work.

Majokweni said that in these industries children and women were used for sex, removal of body organs, begging on street corners, forced marriages and forced labour.

There was an anticipated increase in 40000 forced prostitutes in Germany's 2006 World Cup, but this was found to have been exaggerated, delegates said during the summit.