Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Dirty Little Secret: The Super Bowl & Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking remains prevalent. In fact, it continues to increase and is expected to overtake the drug trafficking industry in the next 1-2 years. Just yesterday, for example, 14 people were indicted in a sex trafficking ring of children across the state of Colorado. And, the individuals overseeing the ring were not much more than young adults themselves (20-22 years of age). At least 4 teenage girls were victims of this ring, which worked in Denver, Boulder, Lakewood, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction. The Colorado Human Trafficking Task Force is prosecuting this case. You can read more about this particular case here (video included).

It's right around the corner. Sex trafficking happens everywhere, even in places you wouldn't expect it.

So, while this topic was particularly current given the recent bust of this CO ring, the Super Bowl is also coming up. You might be asking, "What does that have to do with anything?" Well, prostitution and sex trafficking generally increase during large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl. In fact, last year the Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, stated, "The Super Bowl is one of the largest human trafficking events in the United States." Young girls are often offered to johns as "Super Bowl specials." In one particular case, this meant paying $300 for two girls, a 14-year-old and an 18-year-old. Domestic sex trafficking (the moving of primarily women from city to city, state to state) for the purpose of exploitation is a significant and severely troublesome social problem.  According to Shared Hope International, over a 5 year period of time, an under-aged prostitute who works 5 nights a week could be "raped" 6,000 times by men. This number dramatically increases around sporting events. Shared Hope International reports that prostitutes are generally given a quota to reach of 10-15 buyers per night. However, around peak times, such as the Super Bowl, girls have reportedly been sold to as many as 45 buyers in a single night.

The good news? Some people and places are working to combat this incredibly horrendous and exploitive practice--even targeting time frames specific to the Super Bowl. For instance, a bill in Indiana to toughen penalties for sex trafficking is being reviewed by the Governor. It passed both the House and Senate in Indiana with unanimous support. The bill would make it easier to prosecute cases involving victims 16 and younger and broadens the law for cases involving older victims.

And, perhaps even more interesting, there is a group of nuns in Indiana that are taking to the streets to catalyze change and combat sex trafficking. One group of nuns buys stocks in hotels and motels so that as stockholders they have a say and can demand action. And, many of the hotels within a 50-mile radius in/around Indianapolis have pledged to report any human trafficking issues. You can find out more through the Indiana Protection of Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.

And, there is "The S.O.A.P. Project." TraffickFree will be offering bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-3737-888) on them. These bars are also placed in some hotel and motel bathrooms.

You may also be interested in learning more about GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services) which acts as the only service in NY aimed at helping girls who have been sexually exploited and/or domestically trafficked.

Finally, below I've included a video made by GEMS in honor of President Obama's National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  GEMS supporters from across the country sent in messages of love and support to girls recovering from exploitation and sex trafficking. The message? You are loved and cared about.


  1. I had no idea! I applaud the Indiana nuns for coming up with the idea of buying stock in hotels, etc. I learned long ago that any time you can use money--either by threatening to withhold it as in tourist dollars, or by using it to insert yourself into the decision-making structure as the nuns have done--your ability to influence change increases. It's sad...but true.

  2. I find it interesting that not only does sex trafficking increase but so does domestic violence. I wonder why a violent game cause men to want to dominate women? Do you think it is because men need to show that they can be just as manily as their male counterparts they see on the field?