Thursday, January 30, 2014

What Does The Superbowl Really Mean for Human Trafficking?

This Sunday, thousands of excited football fans will flock to MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States to attend the annually anticipated Superbowl game.  Aside from the increase in sportswear, consession stand snacks, and beer sales that are much anticipated by local businesses, some human trafficking abolition organizations have anticipating something else.

In 2009, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, described the Superbowl as the “single-largest human-
trafficking incident in the United States.”  The Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking estimated that "tens of thousands of women  and minors" were transported to Dallas to increase demand.  In the 2011 Dallas Superbowl, 93 "prostitution arrests" took place.  However, Rachel Lloyd, human trafficking survivor abolitionist and founder and executive director of GEMS, the nation's largest direct service provider to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women, stated in a blog post from 2012 that,

"For the last few years, the Super Bowl has been touted as the 
biggest trafficking event, especially for minors, in the country. 
While there have definitely been some reported cases, the statistics just don't 
bear out this claim. The real crime is happening when no one's looking 
and no one cares, not when every media outlet, 
advocate and cop has its sights set on it." 

This calls into question the true effects the Superbowl has on increasing the number of human trafficking occurrences at large scale sports events.  Traffickers and victims are not registered and so it is not currently possible to accurately quantify the influx of human trafficking that will take place.  During a Hearing on Human Trafficking at Superbowl, Carol Smolenski of Ench Child Prostitution and Trafficking - USA explains why a heavier focus on combating human trafficking at events at large scale sports events is important, 

"The demand side becomes more concentrated 
on one geographic location [in] a short period of time
before then dispersing again.  That's why we put 
so much focus on these sporting events." 

In an effort to proactively prevent human trafficking, New Jersey is has embarked on a $350,000 media campaign to combat human trafficking.  Even if the statistics during the Superbowl may be exaggerated, human trafficking is still an inhumane injustice that should not be tolerated. It is important to not become ignorant to a problem just because it has been exaggerated. This is an easily hidden trade. With a receptive audience, the efforts through this media campaign will help combat human trafficking during and after the Superbowl through the awareness it raises.  Other operations in preparation for this Sunday's big event, by the New York Police Department (NYPD,) has led to nearly 200 arrests on charges of sex trafficking and related crimes.  Also, hotel workers and transportation workers in both New York and New Jersey have received training over the past few months to detect possible signs of possible human trafficking.

If you are a football fan and are pumped to watch and even attend the Superbowl, I am by no means telling you to not go and not enjoy yourself!  I'll probably be tuning in for the game, myself.  So,  if you are a football fan, grab some friends, grab some snacks, and enjoy the game! However, it is important to always be aware.  Just as workers in New York and New Jersey are becoming aware of the signs of possible human trafficking cases, it is important for you and me.  You can read more on the signs of human trafficking HERE.


Anonymous said...

There is a growing number of well respected researchers, journalists, scientists, professors, that have concluded in their research that the sex trafficking, sex slavery concept is based on emotion, morals, and monetary funding rather than facts, evidence and proof. They state that very few kidnapped, forced against their will, physically abused, raped sex slave prostitutes for profit have been found throughout the world. Their research concludes that women who enter into this type of work do so of their own free will. They also state that there are many anti-prostitution groups who simply do not like the idea of consensual adult prostitution and have distorted the facts in order to push their agenda and receive funding and money into their organizations in the form of donations, grants and to change the laws about prostitution. They state that these anti-prostitution groups use made up child sex trafficking statistics which they have no proof or evidence of in order to gain public acceptance for their cause. Which they then pass on to the media as press releases.

Here is a good website about sex trafficking:

deborah poh said...

Wow, I'm so glad that I read this post because it is so informative and relevant after the events of yesterday. When I first saw the title, my curiosity was piqued because I had no idea how human trafficking was linked with the SuperBowl. After reading the post, I had a "of course" moment because it definitely makes sense that more prostitution would occur for such a world-renowned event! It's definitely an uglier side of the annual celebrations that we don't like to think about, but definitely need to keep in mind. I consider myself to be a feminist (I minored in Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies)and so love reading quality pieces like this that keep me informed and aware of things that society often wants to keep hidden. Thanks for sharing!

xx Debbie

Christine Tj said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm the author of this post. Thank you for sharing your comments. I would really like to read the articles which view human trafficking this way. Feel free to leave them in the comments or email them to us!

Co-editor, BASI