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World Cup:

By Iva Skoch

A billion condoms, 40,000 sex workers

CAPE TOWN, South Africa  The taxi drivers hustling around the bars on Long Street in Cape Town say they are ready for all the soccer fans that will flood the city in June for the World Cup. So are hotels, restaurants, breweries and, inevitably, prostitutes.

Arguably, the soccer World Cup is to the sex industry what the holiday season is to candy shops. A temporary surge of excited people feeling collectively festive, willing to pay for a bit of extra indulgence.

South Africa’s Drug Central Authority estimates 40,000 sex workers will trickle in for the event from as far as Russia, the Congo and Nigeria to cater to the wide taste spectrum of some 400,000, mostly male, visitors and their apres-soccer needs.

The Cape tourism board issued a code to try to curb sex tourism. Children around the country are being educated about the dangers of World Cup-related sex trafficking. AIDS awareness campaigns have been launched.

Even President Jacob Zuma  himself a polygamist, father of at least 20 children and an infamous condom skeptic  isnt taking any frivolous chances with the World Cup. During his official visit to the United Kingdom in March, he asked the government to supply 1 billion extra condoms to South Africa before the upcoming tournament.

Britain responded by sending 42 millions condoms, a number sufficient to supply almost every citizen of South Africa with one condom or every tourist expected to travel there with one hundred. Still, some fear that exposing so many rowdy soccer watchers in such a high infection-risk area might result in an increase of HIV rates upon their return to Europe.

A Congolese prostitute, who goes by the name Scarlet and works on Long Street, arrived last month and will stay in Cape Town for at least a few months or maybe permanently, if God allows, she said. She wears a black tank top with the logo of Bafana Bafana, the name of the South African national soccer team, The Boys.

Work has been slow, she said, but shes hopeful the World Cup will change that.

White men like black women, she said proudly about the anticipated wave of soccer fans in search of exoticism.

Scarlet says she uses condoms most of the time, unless men pay her extra to not use one. Men dont like condoms, she said.

Most do, however, like soccer.

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