Superbowl Sex Trafficking: Myth or Fact?
There are certain stories that a camera will never capture, the grim truth behind the party and pomp. The alleged child labor and the street protests that occurred throughout Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup last year, for instance, were never truly depicted.
This year, the Super Bowl is set to take place on Sunday, February 1st at the University of Phoenix stadium. What many people are not aware of is the human trafficking linked with the Super Bowl. As the biggest sporting event of the year, pimps allegedly take advantage of the large crowds to exploit girls and make higher profits.
With every Super Bowl, lawmakers take increased measures to prevent prostitution. Last year, officials in New York and New Jersey pledged to address trafficking and crack down on prostitution rings. Flight attendants were alerted to recognize victims, and billboards were used to raise light on this issue. However, some people have criticized lawmakers for taking strong actions, asserting that their claims are overhyped and unsubstantial. In 2011, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stated, “The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States”. Last year, Representative Chris Smith echoed this claim, stating that more than 10,000 exploited women and girls were trafficked to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010. Unfortunately, these statistics do not have extensive evidence to support them; however, this is not an issue to ignore by any means.
Despite the uncertainty, we shouldn’t overlook that human trafficking is still a prevalent issue in the United States on a national scale. Victims of sex trafficking are often runaways lured by a false promise of a better life and a well-paying job. Lawmakers can use the attention of the Super Bowl to raise awareness of human trafficking, as a whole. Furthermore, the “hype” of this issue shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Super Bowl will increase prostitution, although to what extent is unknown. According to UNICEF, 1.5 million individuals are victims of trafficking (labor and sex) in the United States. One thing is certain: it is time to take a strong stand to tackle human trafficking.
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Emily Cheng is a senior in high school and an Amnesty International Student Activist Coordinator. She is passionate about human rights, the environment, and gender equality. In between figuring out her existential crisis, you can usually find her running, reading, or dreaming of future adventures.