RFE/RL: What prompted IOM’s initiative and who are your partners?
Jean Philippe Chauzy: The International Organization for Migration decided to team up with the MTV Europe Foundation [a charity registered jointly in Britain with the MTV Europe music channel] and the Swedish [government’s International] Development Agency to put out a public-service announcement [PSA] to warn the general public that, unfortunately, the World Cup will probably be marked by an increase in the trafficking of women, most of whom will end up in situations of exploitation.
We know from experience that it's unfortunately always the case that when you've got a big global sporting event, or a big global event, there is an increase in demand for sexual services, and we believe that the traffickers are going to make the most of the World Cup to make money. So we hope that the PSA will incite football fans -- and we're expecting about 3 million football fans to come to Germany -- to basically be aware of that problem and know that some women will be stuck in situations of exploitation during the World Cup.
RFE/RL: MTV Europe and the Swedish government in 2005 launched a broader project, called EXIT, to raise awareness and increase prevention of the trafficking of women in Europe. Megastars such as actress Angelina Jolie and model Helena Christensen have lent their support to the EXIT project. Did this fact play a role in your decision to team up with MTV and the Swedish government in launching the public-service announcement?
Chauzy: MTV, like others, has and is doing a lot of work in terms of prevention alongside the International Organization for Migration and others. MTV is a key player, but, for instance, you've got the Council of German Women's Organizations -- that's an umbrella group of about 50 women's groups in Germany that launched a few months ago, an awareness campaign that is funded by the German government to put out the same prevention message.
So, the PSA is just one item, if you want, of a much broader initiative to raise awareness of the dangers of trafficking and to make sure that the people who will be going to Germany during the World Cup know that women who will be providing sexual services might be doing so against their will.
RFE/RL: Do you enjoy the support of other groups and governments in this initiative?
Chauzy: Yes, absolutely, as in all parts of the world, the IOM is working very closely not just with civil society and clusters of NGOs, but also with the government authorities, with the German police. You've got to bear in mind that the telephone hotline numbers that feature on the public-service announcement will be tackled, the calls will be tackled by the German police. And we know that the German police [are] very much eager to clamp down on any cases of trafficking, of course offering protection to victims of trafficking and prosecuting those who organize and benefit from trafficking in women.
RFE/RL: The World Cup had been under way now only for a couple of days and an increase in the number of trafficked women might not be obvious yet. However, would you venture to come up with an estimate on the impact of the tournament on human trafficking?
Chauzy: This is still very early [indeed], as the World Cup started on June 9. That being said, there are some groups that are saying that up to 40,000 women might end up in trafficking networks in Germany during the World Cup. We do not put out a figure -- what we say, more generally, is that up to 200,000 women are trafficked yearly to Europe for sexual exploitation from Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and other parts of the world, and that, unfortunately, the World Cup is not going to stop that phenomenon. In terms of the impact of telephone hotlines, we know from experience in other parts of the world that these PSAs, these TV and radio spots do make a difference. People do call the telephone hotlines to report cases of women being abused in exploitative networks.
RFE/RL: Has the world football governing body, FIFA, offered you financial support?
Chauzy: Well, in terms of our initiative with MTV and the Swedish Development Agency, not that I'm aware of. But I can confirm that the German Football Federation, for instance, has been financially supporting other countertrafficking information campaigns that are currently ongoing in Germany. And I think that maybe FIFA or the German Football Federation are entirely aware of this issue, and, obviously, are very keen to make sure that the World Cup is not associated in any way with an increase in trafficking during the World Cup.
RFE/RL: The announcement and the hotline number are accompanied by a video. The clip shows a naked woman streaking across a football pitch amid male spectators’ amused cheers, and then cuts to images of her being violently shoved in the tunnel underneath the stands. The short film ends with the words "Are you cheering now?" and was deemed disturbing. Was it coordinated with FIFA?
Chauzy: Well, this video clip is supposed to be shocking. It is supposed to jolt people's consciousness, to make them realize that trafficking is a real issue. Now, to answer your question whether it was coordinated in any way with FIFA -- not that I'm aware of, but it was coordinated obviously with the Swedish Development Agency, with MTV Europe Foundation, and with others. And it is purposefully intended and designed to shock people so that they realize that trafficking is a real issue that cannot be ignored and that it is crucial for football supporters who will be gathering in large numbers in Germany -- to make them aware that this is an issue that cannot be ignored and needs to be tackled.
Police in Moscow arrest human rights demonstrators on February 1 (courtesy photo)
THE RECORD ON RIGHTS: On March 8, the U.S. State Department issued its global report on human rights. According to the report, 15 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, human rights are improving in many post-communist countries. But problems persist in others, it says, despite the worldwide explosion of information and Western efforts to spread democracy. (more)
For more detailed information, see:
Azerbaijan Cited For Political Harassment, Police Brutality
Child Labor, Human Trafficking Cited In U.S. Report On Afghanistan
U.S. Says China, Iran 'Most Systematic' Rights Violators
Human Rights Not A Priority In Central Asia, U.S. Report Says
U.S. Report Points To Serious Abuses In Iraq
Abuses In Chechnya, Centralized Power Cited In U.S Report On Russia
U.S. Says Serious Human Rights Violations Occurring In Iran