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MPs prepare to beat off phantom Olympic hooker invasion
When in doubt, multiply the evidence by 10,000
The UK Government is preparing to repel an invasion by an army of prostitutes, which it believes is likely to descend on the Olympic Games in 2012.
On Monday, Labour MP Fiona McTaggart asked Tessa Jowell, Minister for the Olympics whether she had commissioned any research on the effect of increased visitor numbers for the London 2012 Olympics on demand for the sex industry.
Ms Jowell responded by stating that "major sporting events in the past have seen increases in sex trafficking and the exploitation of young men and women."
She went on: "We are absolutely determined to take every pre-emptive action that we can, with the Metropolitan police and with established voluntary organisations, to ensure that the London 2012 Olympics do not become a target for that vile trade and are not tainted as a result."
According to the Cabinet Office, Ms Jowell was relying on the collated evidence of research and advice provided by the Women’s National Commission of increases in sex trafficking at the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics as well as the Germany 2006 World Cup.
This is an interesting source, given the Government’s preference for only basing its "evidence-based" policies on evidence that it likes.
In the run-up to the German World Cup, a wide range of organisations started hyping fears of the number of prostitutes that would be trafficked into Germany to cope with the alleged increase in demand for their services.
The alarmist tendency eventually settled, even before the event, on a figure of 40,000 additional prostitutes that would be trafficked into Germany during the tournament.
As illustrated in the latest debunking of trafficking figures in the UK, a headline figure, once quoted, continues to be quoted long after it has been shown to be without research base. A report on this issue by the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) – or German equivalent of the FBI – found evidence of just 5 individuals trafficked into Germany during the period in question.
However, this did not prevent former Minister and Rotherham MP Denis MacShane claiming in a speech to the Commons in 2008: "When the World Cup was held in Germany in 2006, the Germans organised the trafficking of 40,000 extra prostitutes into Germany to serve the clients, as they put it, who came to the World Cup and, in the midst of either jubilation or dismay at their teams’ performances, felt that they should go and buy sex with some girl brought in from Czechoslovakia, Latvia or Lithuania".
Mr MacShane was criticised last month as the author of some of the most alarming statistics on human trafficking into the UK. However, when asked in a BBC interview to acknowledge that these figures were without substance, pointedly refused to do so.
His renewed claim of 40,000 girls trafficked into Germany during the World Cup came almost two years after the alternative figure was released and widely available in the public domain.
A spokeswoman for the International Union of Sex Workers has also disputed government claims in respect of other Olympic Games. However, it is not clear what weight – if any – the Women’s National Commission gave to evidence from an organisation that is directly involved in sex work. ®