There’s no direct link between football or sports and human trafficking. There is, however, a huge connection between supply and demand. The conditions surrounding huge sporting events — like the Super Bowl — foster an increase in exploitation. Surrounding large sporting events we find excessive drinking, inhibitions, and a greater demand for commercial sex. Like any other business, the sex trade industry responds with greater supply to meet the increased demand. This is human trafficking.
Sex trafficking IS a big deal.
- Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is a rapidly growing criminal industry second only to drug dealing and equal in scope to arms dealing. Human Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud and/or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Contrary to popular belief under federal and state law, Human Trafficking does not require movement of people across borders.
–NJ Coalition Against HT
- Currently, there are very few ways of collecting statistics on Human Trafficking. However, at the governmental level there is an acknowledgement of the potential increase of Human Trafficking around large sporting events. In recent years Governors of states where the Super Bowl has taken place each implemented increased training of law enforcement, raised awareness among community members, and reached to at-risk kids during the Super Bowl.
- In 2014 New Jersey’s Attorney General made anti-Human Trafficking enforcement a priority. They established a NJ Human Trafficking Task Force that worked for over year prior to the Super Bowl, training law enforcement, working with non-profits, schools, and other civil society and business leaders to ensure that systems were and are in place to deter trafficking. The goal is to set-up a united front where the traffickers avoid coming to the State, but this does not necessarily correlate with an increase in arrests. Traffickers tend not to come to the host State if they know law enforcement is watching.
- In 2016 a Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Sting netted 570 “johns” (would-be sex buyers) and 23 pimps. This operation involved 17 states and recovered 83 sex trafficking victims. (Source)
- The Super Bowl is also an opportunity to educate the community. People will stop and listen if you mention Super Bowl but not necessarily if you just talk about Human Trafficking. There has also been a number of missing children found each Super Bowl and there are a few evangelical groups, including Free International, that come to the state of the Super Bowl and work with at-risk children and specifically look for those missing and sexually exploited.
Raising sex trafficking awareness is not a one time, one event, cause. Rather, promoting awareness, especially during a national event such as the Super Bowl, allows for wide-spread community attentiveness to the issue.
The problem of sex trafficking will not end with the Super Bowl. It is the hope that the NJ Coalition’s awareness campaign will help to prevent Human Trafficking in the United States and when it does occur, to reach out to victims, providing them with aid and resources. Learn more.