Large events like the Super Bowl have long been a hub for trafficking and prostitution, with hundreds of arrests and countless sting operations over the years taking down the pimps, johns, and traffickers who take advantage of professional football’s biggest weekend. For Super Bowl LII today in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the trafficking situation is, unfortunately, no different.
Minneapolis police say they are working with 23 law enforcement agencies, patrolling the web to target people buying sex online and monitoring hotels for sex trafficking.
And what’s more, representatives from more than 40 organizations have hashed out an anti-trafficking strategy for the Super Bowl that had been in development for the past 19 months, according to U.S. Attorney Greg Brooker.
The good news is that, in the face of increased trafficking, there is increased awareness and prevention being taken. The Star Tribune reported on these awesome proactive measures taken ahead of this weekend’s massive crowds:
• A men’s organization in Duluth launched the “Don’t Buy It Project,” the first public awareness campaign of its kind in Minnesota last year to help prevent sex buying.
• The “I Am Priceless” campaign started in September, spreading messages to boost the self-esteem of 8- to 12-year-old girls and boys. It’s funded by the Women’s Foundation.
• At St. Paul Central and Como Park high schools, the Journey Men program aims to teach boys about “healthy manhood,” reducing objectification of women, their abuse and exploitation. It’s also funded by the Women’s Foundation.
• Local and national groups, like the Civil Society in St. Paul, are making plans to increase services during the Super Bowl.
• Increased victim services will be offered through programs like The Link’s Passageways in Prior Lake, which offers housing and on-site services such as a school and therapy for 12- to 24-year-old victims.
• If you or someone you know is being sexually exploited or trafficked in Minnesota, call 1-866-223-1111, a crisis and resource line for local shelter and support services operated by Day One.
A 365-Day Crisis
Bradley Myles, the Chief Executive of anti-slavery group Polaris, warns people not to only think of trafficking when the stadium lights are on. “All this is a one-day snapshot into what otherwise is a 365-day problem,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “The same traffickers that are committing trafficking … during the Super Bowl, they’re going to wake up in the morning on Monday and do the same thing.”
The unfortunate fact is that arrests of pimps running underage sex rings are reported at the National Football League’s championship game almost every year, with girls trafficked from as far away as Hawaii to be sold to clients via the Internet, hotels and strip clubs.
Experts say that the sheer number of men looking to pay for sex substantially increases demand and the massive crowds allow for pimps and victims to essentially go unnoticed, newsnet5.com reports.
“It’s not so much that you become a victim at the Super Bowl, but that many victims are brought in to be used for all the men at the Super Bowl,“ Stephanie Kilper, a representative for Operation Freedom Taskforce in Akron, Ohio—an organization which aims to end to human trafficking—told newsnet5.com
Ahead of last year’s Super Bowl, U.S. police arrested a whopping 750 people in nationwide sex-trafficking sting operations, the largest sweep since operations began 13 years earlier.
Why This Matters
Some 1.5 million people in the United States are victims of trafficking, mostly for sexual exploitation. The majority are children, according to a U.S. Senate report published last year.
We bring this issue to light because awareness is a powerful tool in this fight against sexual exploitation. We can’t tell you how many people scoff when we tell them one of the negative aspects of pornography is how it fuels the demand for prostitution and human sex trafficking. Too many people in our sex-obsessed society think that the porn industry and sex trafficking industry are two completely separate issues, one being legitimate and the other being an illegal activity that only happens in developing countries. Not so.
This is the reality of what the porn industry fuels: real people being sexually abused and exploited at the hands of family members, traffickers and pimps. Each click to porn content directly fuels the demand for sex traffickers to make money by selling videos of their sex slaves to porn sites.
When someone is sex trafficked, videos and images are taken of them to advertise them online. And sometimes, these images and videos can end up on popular explicit sites. And the unfortunate reality is that the more the mainstream adult entertainment industry flourishes, the bigger the opposing globalized black market for porn will become. So the higher the demand for porn, even porn that was produced in professional studios (which, newsflash, also abuse their performers), the more sex traffickers will want to profit from that lucrative porn demand, and the more they’ll exploit vulnerable people to get there.
And consider that there is evidence from trafficking cases, showing how exploiters have trafficked people to use them in pornography. Not cool.
Knowledge is power, and being aware of the facts is an important step in decreasing the demand for sexual exploitation and porn, and helping to eliminate sex trafficking.
What You Can Do
One of the best ways to get involved in this fight is to find a local organization that is working to make a difference right in your community, and also on a worldwide scale. Help spread this knowledge and SHARE this article so that others can be aware. Together, we can fight to stop the demand for sexual exploitation in society. Change begins with one.
Start conversations by wearing our #StoptheDemand tee which highlights the link between porn and human trafficking. By taking a stand, we can make a difference. Click below to shop: