NEW YORK, January 31, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – With the Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, news sources and a prominent pro-life congressman have warned the tens of thousands of attendees could be providing cover for the sexual trafficking of women and girls.
According to Policy Mic, for example, “hundreds of thousands of people (mainly men) flock to the New York City metro area for the week’s festivities, [so] the primary motivator for increased prostitution is increased demand for it.” CBS, meanwhile, cites a former victim-turned-advocate who says “The Super Bowl is a huge, huge arena for sex trafficking….[Some] are coming to the Super Bowl not even to watch football – they are coming to the Super Bowl to have sex with women, and/or men or children.”
And in a hearing this week on Capitol Hill, Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who co-chairs the House anti-human trafficking caucus, said, “We know from the past, any sports venue — especially the Super Bowl — acts as a sex-trafficking magnet.”
Hard facts surrounding major events and related greater prevalence of sex trafficking are difficult to find. Records show the areas around several recent Super Bowls saw no increase in sex trafficking arrests – but many sex trafficking operations generate no arrests for weeks or months. The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking says on its Super Bowl 2014 “fact sheet” that “there are very few ways of collecting statistics on Human Trafficking.” The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has said the exact number of women sold into the sex trade during the Super Bowl is unknown.
What is indisputable is the fact that sex trafficking is all-too-real, and the NJ Coalition says using the Super Bowl to raise awareness is important.
According to The Daily Beast, United Nations data show that “2.4 million people at any given time are trapped in trafficking situations, 1.8 million of them as sexual slaves. And women are the primary victims. Fifty-five percent of forced labor victims — and 98 percent of sex trafficking victims — are women and girls.”
This year, once again, Super Bowl-area governments are getting involved in the effort. Police are being trained on what signs to look for, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the issue online and in-person attention via Twitter and a press conference.
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Anti-trafficking efforts sometimes take creative approaches. The organization Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP) says it will put out 100,000 bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in New York and New Jersey hotels and motels. In 2012, at Indianapolis' Super Bowl, CNBC reports SOAP handed out 40,000 bars of soap, and saved two victims from trafficking.
But the demand for prostitution grows. Back-page ads in alternative papers in the local area went up by more than 11-fold the week of the Super Bowl, says SOAP.
This year, approximately 100 intelligence-trained contractors will put a different angle on tracking traffickers – using digital technology as “part of a two-year partnership between trafficking researchers” and the contracting company Praescient Analytics.