Boycott the World Cup ?!?!?

This is a fairly unusual reason to revive the English section of this page, but yesterday something came up I cannot leave without a comment.

One of the comrades at SSK (the socialdemocratic student club here) offered T-shirts with a slogan against prostitution – coupled with the call for a boycott of the World Cup. Others dropped in and a few mails later Germany seemed to be a nasty place and a paradise for prostitution of all kinds.

Unsurprisingly I got angry and therefore I have decided to dig up some fact and write something like a summary about the situation and my personal opinion about such a boycott.

The awareness

400,000 people are working as prostitutes in Germany, of which 95 % are female. 100,000 to 200,000 come from foreign countries.
Prostitution in all of its kinds and trafficking are not topics which have been a lot in discussion during the last years in Germany. This may be due to the fact that we Germans tend to prioritize – and since our unemployment has been high for 15 years, it is hard to get through with such topics.

However it is covered in the media and brought to public attention. Last year we had a scandal about unlawful visa given out by the German embassy in Kiev, Ukraine. The applications for Schengen visa were unsufficiently checked aorund the year 2001, leading to an incredible increase of applications (almost 300,000 in 2001 vs. 115,000 in 2003), including certainly a lot of criminals abusing it to bring people illegally to Western Europe and subsequently exploiting them as sexual slaves.

The laws and the situation

For my usual readers I have to remark that prostitution is illegal in Sweden – the law here has the remarkable feature that not those who sell are criminals but those who buy. An interesting approach in my opinion.

In Germany however is prostitution legal since 2001 – a law introduced by the social democrats and the greens. The motivation for this law is based on two things. First of all, it is an adaption to the reality. Like in many other European countries, prostitution had been always illegal and still exists though. All attempts to extinct it were in vain. Secondly, prostitution has a social component: prostitutes are forced to live in an illegal situation with no security. They are not covered by any social security system – that means health care and no pensions later. It also makes it difficult to ensure their income – until 2001 a freer could leave without paying and could not be persecuted. Therefore prostitution was legalized within certain limits and is now considered as a profession. However this helps also to draw the line between illegal and legal prostitution. If the prostitutes don’t have a work permit or are not employed correctly they still commit a crime. Unfortunately I could find only one survey about the effects of this law. This is quite recently and has not been published yet.

Virtually unnoticed by the public during the visa scandal, a law concerning trafficking was enacted in early 2005. It sets a maximum of 10 years in jail for anybody who forces somebody to work as a prostitute. Promoting work as a prostitute to anybody under 21 years is also punished. Those who do that on a regular basis as a member of a gang get a minimum of 1 year in jail.

This sounds not very impressive, but in major cities all over Germany the police has special units who investigate such cases and try to find cases of illegal prostitution and sexual slavery. I don’t dare to give an estimates about their efficiency, but here some facts:

  • around 400 cases of trafficking are found every year
  • more than 75 % of all victims come from Eastern Europe
  • currently the biggest faction are people from Ukraine (18.8 % in 2004)
  • 173 out of 180 cases from Ukraine were women, while the difference for Russian victims is larger (87 women out of 113 cases)
  • in relation to the total population and the female population between 15 and 30 years Bulgarians are by far the biggest faction
  • 8 % are underaged
  • more than half of the victims are younger than 24 years
  • around 38 % of the criminals are Germans, 32 % come from Eastern Europe themselves, 20 % from other parts of Europe
  • the percentage of men among them is decreasing. 78 % of the criminals were men in 2004.
  • the reason for the trafficking: 30 % of the victims was told a wrong reason for the transfer to Germany, 52 % were caught by professional advertisement (in newspapers etc.), 12 % were violently forced, 21 % accepted to work as a prostitute before being transferred.
  • This acceptance however may have been received by giving the victims a wrong impression of what awaits them in Germany. Many of them was told that the could work freely and would earn a lot of money. Many accepted it as a way to pay back their “debts” for the illegal trafficking.
  • 72 % passed the border legally

It should be taken in account that these statistics reflect the year 2004 and therefore before the new laws regarding these crimes were introduced.
As far as I can tell, trafficking is a huge problem – but it is not promoted by the authorities, because prostitution without work permit is still illegal. Most sexual slaves pass the border legally with a tourist visa. Thus better border controls won’t help much.

Instead the problems have to be fought were the prostitution takes place.


Well, how is the World Cup connected to all that? The proposal was to boycott this event to protest against the prostitution taking place there, especially the trafficking. The European Social Democrats have startet a petition about that.

My understanding of a boycott is that you want to directly affect those who are responsible for an unjustified action. For example, if you want to stop the cruel treatment of chicken in a certain egg farm, you just don’t buy their eggs anymore. But what can be done to stop prostitution? If those who want to stop prostitution boycott the places where prostitution takes place, the result would be that all the freers would be among themselves – thus this doesn’t mean any damage to the business of the criminals.
Of course this is not realistic, but to take the egg example again: the last thing the egg farm would be afraid of is the boycott of the non-egg-eaters.

Therefore I think a boycott will hit all those who come to celebrate this event peacefully and legally, not those who abuse it. A boycott is wrong and leads to the same results.
A more effective approach is to address this in the public by any means – T-shirts are actually not a bad idea for that in my opinion.
Reporting suspicious activities to the police is another good thing. Not a single policeman in all of Germany is on vacation during the World Cup – they will be happy to stop every illegal action of this kind.

And for those who want it more directly: embarrassment is the best weapon against freers.

Jämställdhet (Equality between men and women)

The word Jämställdhet has been connected several times to this debate. I think this whole topic has not too much to do with that. Certainly there are mainly men exploiting mainly women – but the reason underneath trafficking is not that we have a profound inequality between the sexes. The reason why poor and desperate women get into this situation is that the iron curtain may not exist in a way of stopping people to cross the border. Today’s iron curtain draws the line between poverty and wealth. The border between Poland and Germany is open today, but the GDP in Germany is 30,000 US-$ per citizen, while in Poland it is only 8,000 US-$ per citizen.
Therefore I see this whole thing more as a matter of the war against poverty than a matter of equality.


The Swedish point of view on prostitution may be different from the German one, but there can be no doubt about it that poverty has to be reduced and exploitation of human beings has to be stopped in every possible way. I consider a boycott not as such.
I am happy to receive comments about this and discuss it further.

Finally: World Cup 2006 Germany – Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden

Hässelbyloppet 2005

OK – it has been already 21 days since the run, so I’ll keep it short: the Hässelbyloppet 2005 was the last run of the year.

Our team consisted initially of 6 runners, but Garance overslept – so we were only 5. The distance was 10 kilometers with a nice field start. The time measuring system is probably the most oldfashioned I have ever seen. There are several “channels”, each with an own clock, taking each runner’s time. The starting number of the finishers is noted down in the order of arrival. After that it is possible to make the connection between the measured times and the names of the runners. Oldfashioned, but smart – and more accurate than the usual bar-code-system.

Hässelbyloppet 2005
Nina, Thibault and Ronney prepare for the run

Hässelbyloppet 2005
Norbert, our driver and proud Volkswagen T3 Transporter owner

Hässelbyloppet 2005
After the run

The Hässelbyloppet is divided in four classes:

  • Herrar tävling – Competition class for men
  • Herrar motion – Class for men who just want to take part without competing at a particularly high level
  • Damer tävling – Competition class for women
  • Damer motion – Class for women who just want to take part without competing at a particularly high level

Our results:

  1. Thibault: 39.14 minutes, ranking 11th out of 660 runners in Herrar motion class
  2. Ronney: 42:31 minutes, ranking 74th out of 660 runners in Herrar motion class
  3. Norbert: 43:00 minutes, ranking 145th out of 181 runners in Herrar tävling class
  4. Nina: 46:18 minutes, ranking 26th out of 379 runners in Damer motion class
  5. Fabian: 51:40 minutes, ranking 445th out of 660 runners in Herrar motion class

In total everybody could be quite satisfied. Thibault made an incredible time, and Nina ranked impressively despite her fear she wouldn’t be competitive at all.
For myself I think there is still room for improvement – although 51:40 minutes is the best time I have ever made in a public run on 10 km. My goal should be to stay below 50 minutes on this distance, which would also include to run a marathon in 4 hours or less.

Now it’s the winter break in running. Although I want to keep doing training, it is quite difficult to motivate myself for that. Maybe watching the marathon TV-documentation “Von Null auf 42” will help.

The final goal however is totally clear at the moment: Stockholm Marathon 2006 in about 4:30 hours!

Photo discount

A photo film with 24 pictures costs 40 kr here – and that was a special offer. This is madness – at least compared to German prices.

So here are some photos for free, which I had on my computer but not posted so far.

Library Panorama
The staircase to the library in AlbaNova

Container Panorama
Another panorama of the container. Looks slightly better than the last one – maybe not.

Balloon Panorama
A balloon which I spotted this morning when I woke up.

Is this boring ? Yes, it is – therefore it is time to change the topic and talk about more cheerful things – like the pizza we had on our flat this week. Actually I wasn’t sure that it would be possible to prepare the dough without a mixer (or anything similar) and a rolling pin – but it is. And it tasted really good.

Mike with one part of the result – actually it was huge and most of us didn’t manage to eat all of it

From left to right: Mike, Daniela, Michele, me (what a horrible grin), Maral and Dmitry


So, as you can see, we are having quite a good time here.

Today’s highlights will be:

  • The S:t Eriksloppet half-marathon in the city center and Södermalm. Well, I will try to run it, and the others will try to cheer – that should be a good division of work 🙂
  • Osqvik Party with the master students tonight – well, as far as I know the master students are not so much into partying. However I expect a positive surprise. After all a lot of people I know are there.

Enough for today – tomorrow more about the run.

Ups and Downs

I woke up with a strange feeling in my throat – almost certainly an indicator for a beginning angina or something similar. But this doesn’t keep me from running, of course. Especially when I’m the leader of the team.

Our team was “KTH international students 05”. I have to admit a not very creative name, but a practical one, since most of the team came together less than a week ago.

Bellmanstafetten Panorama
Continue reading Ups and Downs

Home Less Sweet Home – at least this time

There are moments in life when it’s better turn away and don’t look at the misery. Half an hour ago there was one of these moments, when a blonde Swedish girl of maybe 16 years vomited into a trash bin in a subway station. Such things assure that western civilization is certainly on the right track.

The birthday dinner I had before was much more convenient. Anna turned maybe 18, maybe 21 – who cares about age – yesterday and I came along more or less incidently. Quite a nice evening, although our 20 minutes walk through Södermalm was pretty much the end of it. The concert we wanted to see ended just the moment we arrived. So there was nothing to say but “tyvärr” (unfortunately) – and go home.

I received a nice sheet of paper yesterday – it was attached to my cars windscreen and is named “Kontrollavgift”. I’m supposed to pay 450 kr. In other words: it is a parking ticket. Now that my car is standing here at the place the caretaker told me to park at for about one month, I receive finally a fine for it. I’m not going to accept it. In my opinion my car was parked definitely on private property, which can be seen on this photo.

Parking Ticket

The car on the right is mine. As can be seen, my car is standing on the lawn in the direct neighbourhood of the container. It has to be private, not public property.
I’ll register a complaint – that’s for sure.

It maybe of no direct concern to me, but I think it’s necessary to drop a few words about what is going in the USA at the moment. After 9/11 it has become difficult to use the word solidarity in connection with something happening in the US – the final result of an unjustified and meaningless invasion in Iraq gives it a bitter taste.

However I assume the people there have everybody’s solidarity here, including me.

I don’t want to comment too much about the results of this natural desaster, but the political effects of it will be undoubtedly severe – as the mayor of New Orleans points out quite harshly.

Enough for today- tomorrow there will be maybe more time for cheerful things. For example a good result at the Bellmanstaffeten relay run. I also have some nice new photos.

Home Sweet Home

Welcome to our international community where things are getting to run smoothly. Tonight there will live at least 13 different nations on our floor, probably more. Just a few minutes two girls from Georgia arrived, introducing another nation.
We had a great dinner with Pasta, salad and some German wine – “Pfälzer Landwein” which came in a TetraPak. So we are quite a nice bunch of people here.
I feel pretty much at home, especially after I visited Lidl in Täby today. It does not only look like the German Lidl, they even sell the same products.
Later today Julian arrived, who not only turned out to be from my home university in Germany – he also studies at the same master programme. Seems like we had a lack of information in Germany. I thought I already knew all the students from Karlsruhe.

Enough links for today -actually I just wanted to present another nice picture of Stockholm:
Container View

It was taken from a lecture hall at AlbaNova, a shared building of Stockholm University and KTH – and incidently the place which will house most of my lectures.
Well, it makes The Container look worse than it actually is 🙂

In English: Nice panoramas and immigration ideas

It’s the last week before the lectures start, and it’s full of events.

On Tuesday I have been to Vaxholm in the archipelago. Here are some panoramas of that day:

Waiting for the boat in Stockholm

While we (Elena, Christina and me) were waiting for the boat to Vaxholm. In the background is the royal palace.

Continue reading In English: Nice panoramas and immigration ideas

In English: Last warm weekend

Locals agree that this has been one of the last, if not the last warm weekend of this year. The sun was shining and it was warm until late in the evening.
Södermalm Panorama
I met some new people from all over the world and shot some nice panorama photos of Stockholm (Click on “Weiterlesen” for more) . Continue reading In English: Last warm weekend

In English: The masters are coming

It is about to start. Three days after I expected a big wave of master students here in The Container – which actually turned out as a very small wave – new faces show up. I met some of them yesterday at the picnic for exchange students. It was the last big event of the exchange students’ orientation programme. Tickets for a short trip to Estonia were sold – another auspicious event actually 🙂
(Click on “Weiterlesen” to read on and watch some more panoramas) Continue reading In English: The masters are coming

In English: New section

Since my posting to the master students group at yahoo was quite a success, I decided to post more in English and to add a kind of English section. Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t offer a completely multilingual page. For easier access there is a new link at the top of the page. (Click on “Weiterlesen” for more.)
Continue reading In English: New section