In light of the upcoming Super Bowl, I wanted to explore the correlation between human trafficking and sporting events. As you read, please keep in mind that this is an extremely controversial topic and all I can do is present the facts and draw conclusions to the best of my ability. Regardless of your feelings, we can all agree that human trafficking is a horrible evil that should be stopped.
While human trafficking happens daily all across the globe, porn use and prostitution sharply increases during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl. For the sake of this article, I will be focusing on male purchasers, female victims, and the Super Bowl, but human trafficking can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender.
According to Staca Shehan, director of the Case Analysis Division at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, “What we know about sex trafficking is that it is demand-driven and any type of event that brings large groups of people together would generally increase demand,” she said. “Pimps and traffickers follow the money, so they bring their victims wherever they can make the most profit. They look for opportunities they can capitalize on.”
A very popular porn website crunched the numbers: the traffic change before, during, and after Super Bowl 48 (2014) in Seattle and Denver. Obviously, trafficking dropped during the game and increased slightly during halftime, but the most astonishing and conclusive change happened after the game. In Seattle (the winning city), there was a 17% drop in viewing, while in Denver, there was an 11% increase. A link to the full report can be found in this Huffington Post article, but I don’t want to publish the porn site’s article for many obvious reasons. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/broncos-fans-porn_n_4724864.html>
There’s a lot of research being done into the science behind this phenomenon, but in short “Why porn? Because evidence suggests that an increase in testosterone encourages men to seek out a large variety of easily aroused sexual partners.”<http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marina-adshade/superbowl-porn_b_6747762.html>
Last year, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department led a “National Day of Johns” sting and arrested nearly 600 would-be buyers and rescued 70 victims in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. “It’s particularly meaningful that this sting culminated on the day of the Super Bowl, which unfortunately has emerged as a prominent haven for sex trafficking.”
The previous year, the FBI reported charges against 45 pimps and rescued 25 minors after the Super Bowl in New Jersey. < http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-sex-trafficking-sting-super-bowl-20150202-story.html>
What’s being done about it
- San Francisco kicked off a human trafficking awareness campaign on January 12th to bring attention to the events surrounding the Super Bowl. http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Super-Bowl-50-puts-spotlight-on-human-trafficking-6754199.php
- The FBI also identified the Bay Area as one of the top 13 areas in the country for child sex trafficking and local authorities are using this time when people are paying more attention (the Super Bowl) to get people involved and make a larger dent in the problem. <http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/editorials/article/Super-Bowl-50-can-t-be-a-game-for-sex-6762567.php>
- A man accused of running a sex trafficking ring during last year’s Super Bowl was found guilty thanks to an undercover NYPD officer. While not in the host city, the man used the excitement and emotion of the Super Bowl as an opportunity to capitalize on the sex trafficking industry. <http://www.metro.us/new-york/manhattan-man-guilty-of-running-super-bowl-sex-ring-involving-teen/zsJpaB—RzNffwkWl6ImA/>
Whether or not you believe sporting events actually cause a rise in human trafficking and porn use, we can all agree that the national and worldwide publicity that comes from the Super Bowl and other such sporting events is a powerful tool that should be used to our advantage.
If you see something, say something.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
1 (888) 373-7888 Or text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733
Writing for Freedom,