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Super Bowl Sex for Sale

January 27, 2011

News Article

The Super Bowl brings a lot of tourists to its host city each year.  As with the World Cup, major sporting events are often high-profit areas for human traffickers selling sex. This understandably puts anti-trafficking agencies and non-profits on high-alert.

“First of all, you have a large number of male tourists traveling without families. Second, there are large amounts of money at these events,” reports Deena Graves, founder of Texas-based Traffick 911. “For example, the Super Bowl host committee estimates there will be 40,000 people coming into [Dallas] who do not even have tickets to the Super Bowl. They’re coming just for the party atmosphere. It’s kind of that mindset of ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’”

Last year during Florida’s 2010 Super Bowl, task force personnel estimate that “tens of thousands” of trafficking victims were a part of city-wide tourism.  The Florida Department of Children & Families took in over 20 children trafficked into Florida for the express purpose of being sold for sex, according to Regina Bernadin, the Florida’s human trafficking coordinator.

Sandy Skelaney is a program manager at Kristi House, a program for sexually abused children in Florida.  She says, “The Super Bowl is obviously a really big deal for prostitution…We have a bunch of girls being brought [here] by pimps.”

The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot is coordinating with local law enforcement and victim advocacy groups in order to “identify and assist” children trafficked in for the event.  Abbot announced last fall that he will be sending in staff members to assist in legal efforts, as a part of Texas’ Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force, in anticipation of the trafficking of sex workers to the area for the game. Looking ahead to Super Bowl week in Texas, “it’s clear we are going to be defining ourselves as a state and as a people by the way in which we respond to human trafficking.”  (Dallas Daily News)

Several organizations and churches are hosting events in Texas to raise awareness about the reality of human trafficking over Super Bowl weekend. Last week, Love146 hosted a film screening of “The Playground,” which was produced by George Clooney. In the week leading up to the game, local faith-based groups are hosting prayer services.(Watch the trailer here at the Demi and Ashtion Foundation’s website.) On February 5th, Traffick 911 is hosting a tailgating party at Aristide Arena.

Change.org is working with Traffick 911 to ask the Super Bowl 2011 Host Committee to join their efforts in raising awareness among Super Bowl attendees through their “I’m Not Buying It” campaign.  According to Change.org:

Over 30,000 Change.org members have asked the 2011 Super Bowl host committee to stand against child sex trafficking by incorporating the “I’m Not Buying It” campaign into their official event materials. “I’m Not Buying It” is an innovative public education and prevention campaign developed by local anti-trafficking organization . The campaign features a PSA made by former New England Patriot Devin Wyman, where he addresses child sex trafficking and asks other men to join him in protecting kids.  The campaign also offers free posters, banners, and informational cards aimed at preventing the victimization of children. All these materials have been offered to the Super Bowl host committee.

So far, the Committee has not accepted Traffick 911’s materials. To ask Super Bowl Host Committee officials to incorporate the “I’m Not Buying It” awareness campaign into official promotional materials, sign Change.org’s petition here.

According to Polaris Project, “Texas was the first state to require posting of the [National Human Trafficking Resource Center] hotline in public locations. Since that time the state has consistently been the highest in call volume to the hotline, resulting in rescued victims and a greater awareness of the crime throughout the state.”

Sources:

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