Move to protect children during World Cup

Childline Mpumalanga will engage in a number of activities to ensure the protection of vulnerable children during the Soccer World Cup.

The organisation pointed out that soccer games had the potential of putting a large number of children at risk to human trafficking and sexual abuse.

Childline Mpumalanga has organised a fundraising event to cover the costs of additional child protection services during the World Cup in June and July.

Provincial director of Childline Benita Nel said yesterday the organisation had planned a "beautiful Oscar night atmosphere" at the Lowveld Conference Centre on March 27 at 6pm.

She said a table at the function would cost R300 a person.

Nel said over the past few years violence against children and commercial sexual exploitation of children in South Africa had increased.

"Children in South Africa are being exploited by local and foreign patrons, trafficked from rural to urban areas to satisfy demand in the most popular sex-tourism destinations and often held in virtual slavery or debt bondage by the brothel owners who purchase them."

Nel said the vulnerability of children was closely linked to the growth in South Africa's tourism industry.

"Tourism growth and development can engender a number of social problems ranging from sex-tourism to child labour, "she said.

"This is expected to be compounded by the 2010 World Cup."

She said child sex-tourism was a growing problem rooted in poverty and further exacerbated by the growing HIV-Aids pandemic.

Nel said many children were being left to fend for themselves, often falling victim to unscrupulous people with a potential of exploiting them forfinancial gains.

She attributed the sexual assault and violence against children to the excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs by child abusers.

The activities would include a one- week life skills programme at Daantjie, DunDonald, Nkomazi and Elandshoek, where more than 4800 vulnerable children have been registered with Childline Mpumalanga's orphaned and vulnerable community development programme.