Sex & Salvation at Sexpo

Sex & Salvation at Sexpo

It's an adult-only fair that promises to cater to every fantasy, but South Africa's annual "sexpo" drew an unusual exhibitor on Friday: The Salvation Army.

Tucked between sex-toy stands and skimpily dressed hostesses, the Christian group famed for its charity work said it was there on a mission to raise awareness about sex trafficking.

"We are not here to judge anybody, that's not our job as Christians," spokesman Major Carin Holmes told AFP.

"We want to make people aware that there could be danger to this trade."

Major Holmes said they were encouraged by the reception they received from visitors to the Johannesburg expo. She said over 500 people had signed their petition opposing the traffic of women into the sex trade.

She said: "This is a great platform to spread our message. People need to know that sex is not always sexy." Her view is pragmatic. There is evil in the world - 45,000 children are thought to be sex slaves in South Africa alone - and it is important to remind people of it, South African news website Mail & Guardian reported.

She said: "People going to Sexpo need to know that they do so freely, when many people in the industry have no choice and are watched by their pimps all the time."

Members of the group have left their distinctive trumpets and other horns at the office. They also didn't slip into something more comfortable for Sexpo and stuck to their nurse-like uniforms, with grey pencil skirts and white-collared shirts.

The stall's theme colours were black and gold, a stark contrast with everyone else. The only bondage is on their posters, which shows bruised women tied together with rope and barbed wire. Next to it are the words: "The safe word is 08000RESCU."

There was also a keyboard, where people typed in their names to sign up for a petition to call for more to be done about the sex trade. The black Tshirts worn by younger members say: "I'm all for bondage until it's permanent."

The Sexpo sexuality and lifestyle show is in its sixth year.

"My wife and I have been attending this event since 2009. We always look forward to it," said Mr Fred Smythe, 65.

"It's exciting and there is nothing unlawful or forbidden about it."

The four-day event, which draws several thousand visitors a year, included pole dancing and adult puppet shows.

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