The night of the Super Bowl I frequently found my mind wandering to thoughts of humans being sold for someone else’s pleasure. In recent years, there has been an increase in awareness around the fact that large sporting events, including the Super Bowl, have been tied to an increase in human trafficking. Police officials and activists have used this connection to encourage awareness and action towards ending trafficking. Police organize and conduct stings, cities take action, and local activists participate in awareness events like the Half Time Challenge. Events, like the Super Bowl, are assisting in ending human sex trafficking.
Sting operations are now a regular occurrence around the time of the Super Bowl. In the 3 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl one such sting took place this year that encompassed 14 states. The combined number of traffickers and buyers arrested as a result of the sting was 522. Along with these arrests, 73 adult and 3 juvenile trafficking victims were rescued. (1) This is news to be excited about! 76 victims were rescued and now can begin the road to recovery. For the operatives involved in this sting that is a job well done.
As the host site of this year's Super Bowl, Houston is one example of how cities have responded to the known link between human sex trafficking and large sporting events. They are being aggressive, and providing tools and resources, like this information packet, for those within their city. Their efforts are encouraging and perhaps would have gone unnoticed if not for the publicity they have received by holding the Super Bowl.
In recent years, local activists have used the Super Bowl to promote awareness through many different initiatives. Some of these include poster drives, The SOAP project, and the Half Time Challenge. The use of mass media such as commercials, radio ads and billboards has also contributed to the work of local activists. All of these initiatives are working together to build awareness and end human trafficking.
The Super Bowl, and other events like it, are catalysts for the human trafficking awareness movement. It does not matter if these challenges, stings, and volunteer events had happened on a different day of the year had garnered the same numbers, the important thing is that they are happening. Awareness is being built through the efforts of those participating in the awareness events and challenges, the sharing of educational items, sting operations, articles, and towns and cities taking a stand. Human sex trafficking happens 365 days of the year, but times when those involved are given a boost will always be a good thing. As always if you see something say something, report human trafficking to the national human trafficking hotline (888)373-7888.
Written by Rebecca Rice, Blog Manager