(Photo: AP Images / LM Otero)
Sunday marks the culmination of the football experience. But for a lot of young children, the Super Bowl marks the brutal time when they’re sold for sex.
Over 100,000 fans will be heading to Arlington, Texas, for the big game. There, hundreds of girls and women are expected to be trafficked into prostitution. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott noted that there is a “looming potential explosion of human trafficking around the Super Bowl.”
Texas authorities and advocacy groups are taking major steps to prevent children from becoming victimized and pimps from gaining business during the game.
Malika Saada Saar, the executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, who helped kick off “erotic services” from Craigslist, stated, “The involvement of the attorney general and law enforcement is far greater than anything we’ve seen before.”
With a dozen more officers involved in the investigation, authorities expect to arrest the “Johns” trading children.
Rebecca Project for Human Rights recently found an ad for child sex trafficking on the Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com. The ad silently posted nude pictures of a 14-year-old girl looking for clients. Although it doesn’t promote it for the Super Bowl, it has similarities with a Craigslist ad for the 2009 Tampa game. That posting advertised “Super Bowl Special” with a 14-year-old girl. The man posting the ad was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison late last year.
Two dozen children were sex trafficked during the 2009 game in Tampa.
Sexual exploitation and trafficking is the fastest growing illegal trade and is expected to surpass drug trafficking in the next two years, according to Traffick 911. Up to 300,000 people are currently exploited in the U.S. each year. And research shows that a major sporting event such as the Super Bowl can increase the demand for sexual trafficking by up to 80 percent.
The Fort Worth-based group makes it plain to the public that “customers are Americans much like you. They are fluent American men, fathers, husbands, lawyers, teachers; they live where you live and they work where you work; they walk, talk and look just like you."
Organizations such as Traffick 911, Love 146, and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes have also committed themselves to combating child sex slavery for profit during the Super Bowl. They have been holding informational events at churches and theaters ahead of the game.
On Sunday, Irving Bible Church had 50 men walk in pumps and stilettos and march down for the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign to raise awareness about the reality of sex trafficking in Irving, Texas.
Through awareness campaigns, the groups hope to encourage unity among the churches by also conducting prayer walks and distributing ads to neighborhoods gravitated to the sex industry.
Traffick 911 launched the “I’m Not Buying It” campaign and brought on board celebrities to make a joint appeal to the public to help stop sex slavery.
In one campaign video, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff reminds pedophiles that “real men don’t buy children, they don’t buy sex.”
Also lending star power to the anti-sex trafficking effort, award-winning Christian artist Natalie Grant tells the public, “God is calling us to stand against this crime by using the Super Bowl as a platform to raise awareness and decrease demand.”
Traffick 911 plans to host a tailgate rally on Feb. 5 as part of its I’m Not Buying It campaign. Along with Ratliff, retired New England Patriots Super Bowl player Devin Wyman, Andy Hein of International Justice Mission, Kevin Thornton of Color Me Badd, and local lawmakers will join the rally. The event will also feature performances by Christian rock band Inasense, pop/rock band Luminate, and Sound Revival, among others.