We’re four days away from the Big Game and arrests have already been made. Federal law enforcement officials just announced the capture of 33 individuals in Atlanta on charges related to sex trafficking. Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, also announced the big win of these arrests: the rescue of four would-be victims.
While we are incredibly grateful for the dedication of our law enforcement to the issue of sex trafficking during large events like the Super Bowl, we want to bring attention to the other 364 days of the year in which people (especially women and children) are, without the spotlight of national news media, trafficked in seemingly “normal” neighborhoods across the United States.
- The commercial sex market grows modestly during Super Bowls, but also grows during other large-scale events, according to Lauren Martin, a trafficking expert at the University of Minnesota.
- The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands in the United States.
- More than 49,000 total cases of human trafficking have been reported to the National Human Trafficking hotline in the last ten years.
- The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) is one of the most outspoken critics of Super Bowl-trafficking media intensity, calling it damaging because it portrays sex trafficking as an isolated problem and not the complex issue that it really is.
- Sex trafficking is just one part of the larger problem of human trafficking.
- According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, victims have been identified in all 50 states, and in Washington, D.C. While some victims are hidden in brothels and factories, there are many instances in which victims live and work in plain view.
- The widespread lack of awareness and understanding of what trafficking actually looks like means that even when victims interact with the public, they are rarely “spotted.”
- Sex trafficking is just beginning to get the attention of our elected officials, our law enforcement agencies and our media.
- Recent comments by President Trump stating that trafficked women are bound with duct tape and arrive illegally through our southern border are harmful because these comments, like the Super Bowl hype, paint a caricature of trafficking that makes it harder for the public to recognize the issue’s prevalence in everyday life.
Sadly, trafficking is a 24/7/365 problem.
We support all efforts to stop the spread of trafficking, to help survivors and to punish the businesses that are complicit in the cycle of trafficking.
We just won’t limit our support to one day a year.
If you think that you may have witnessed anything that even vaguely seemed like trafficking, please report it immediately to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
To learn more about potential ways to help hold businesses accountable for turning a blind eye to trafficking, visit our page on sex trafficking lawsuits.