Super Bowl: ‘Magnet for Sex Trafficking’
November 17, 2010 – 5:13 PM | by: Maggie Kerkman
It’s the seedy side of the Super Bowl. While thousands of fans flock to whichever city each Super Bowl is held, so do sex traffickers. The problem of sex trafficking is already huge in Texas. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services The state may account for 25% of all human trafficking victims, with thousands women and children trafficked in and through the state each year. Not all of them are forced into sex slavery. Some are forced into other work. But Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says the problem is big– and getting worse. He’s convened a Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force which is now focusing its efforts on making sure Super Bowl 2011 in Arlington doesn’t signal open season for sex trafficking.
Abbott talked with his task force in Arlington today. The information presented was disturbing. He said according to the Florida Coalition against Human Trafficking, tens of thousands of children and adult women were brought into Miami for prostitution– in anticipation of last year’s Super Bowl. Abbott says, “There is an organized effort to bring in women and children… for the purpose of trafficking in sex.” He also said it’s hard to estimate how many will be “attempted to be trafficked.”
The task force is working with local law enforcement to make sure they know how to identify potential victims (as opposed to prostitutes who may voluntarily commit crimes). Members are also connecting with local outreach groups to whom trafficking victims often turn for help. Bill Bernstein is with Mosaic Family Services in Dallas. He says, “If you’re assaulted, you know you’re a victim.” But many trafficking victims, he says, may not even understand they’re a victim. They may feel ashamed, be brainwashed or feel like they somehow deserve such treatment .
Sex trafficking wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry without clients to keep them in business. Abbott says the Super Bowl 2011 crackdown will also target customers. He sends them this warning: “They need to realize they are helping to victimize a young teenage girl who is being used as a slave.”