“Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world, must first come to pass in the heart of America”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
In two weeks one of the most televised, most commercially successful sporting events in the world will take place…the Super Bowl. Touted as the de facto American Sport (even if baseball remains so nominally), this event attracts celebrities, sports hall of famers and other luminaries – making it also one of the hottest tickets and biggest sports-social draws of any public event, rivaling the likes of the Kentucky Derby, World Series, even the World Cup. Cities aggressively compete for the privilege of hosting this venerable money-maker. The winner this year is the Dallas metroplex.
Ad agencies and corporate sponsors also aggressively vie for the privilege of spending tens of millions on short television ads, strategic product placement and sponsorships on what is marketed as a family friendly weekend. Don’t believe me? Read the November 2010 Super Bowl Board of Directors – chaired by noted ‘family man’ Roger Staubach – meeting notes. “Financial” plays a key role in their focus.
Sadly this ‘family friendly’ event…’Super Bowl Weekend’ as it is now referred also has an evil, dark side – not that you will read about it in the main stream media. An inconvenient truth- and bad for ad revenues! According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Super Bowl in Dallas is likely to mirror prior Super Bowl weekends, and result in the trafficking of 10,000 human beings – mostly underage, mostly female and mostly ending up as sex partners. The dirty little secret about The Super Bowl; it generates an enormous sex trade. And children end up being victims of purchased sex – rape for pay is a better description.
Super Bowl XLIV held in Miami drew about 10,000 prostitutes, many of them child prostitutes or former child prostitutes – modern day sex slaves – according to Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They are brought into town by their traffickers from all over the country. Super Bowl XLV and future ones are likely to perpetuate that pattern. “Major sporting events, like the Super Bowl, the Final Four and the BCS championship games, are opportunities for pimps and traffickers to bring in their young workers to meet a demand” according to Loren Wohlgemuth, at Shared Hope International. Texas already enjoys the dubious distinction of being one of the top human trafficking states in the country, with 10,000 human trafficking victims a year. The Super Bowl, according to Attorney General (Texas) Abbott is “a magnet for prostitution and human trafficking, that could bring an additional 10,000 victims for just that week.”
According to numerous sources, including several child advocacy groups – the number of minors (children) trafficked in the sex trade in the United States is estimated to be between 100,000 and 300,000. Most are girls. The average age that these children are exploited – kidnapped, lured into the trade, given drugs in exchange for their “consenting” to work – is 13. The life expectancy of a young girl trafficked into the sex slave-trade is about 7 years.
If there was a disease, a virus that caused such staggering statistics: it affects 100,000 – 300,000 children, kills in 7 years, starts to strike at age 13 – we’d have named foundations and celebrity spokespersons in every state. Oh wait …. With a similar epidemiology (cancer) we do! Even us folks in ‘the colonies’ (West of 495 or 128) of Massachusetts know about The Jimmy Fund; and likely every other state and commonwealth has similar child cancer foundations. But what about the disease of human trafficking of minors? Where is the public dialogue? The outcry? The outrage?
I have three God-Daughters that I’m crazy about. I’d invoke lightening and thunder to any organization that harmed, and consider employing some creative gesture to the ‘you know what’ anatomy of anyone who even looked lasciviously in the direction of those special gals. So it begs the question – why aren’t more parents, Auntie Mames and caregivers more concerned?
Why major sporting events?
Discussing this dark little secret of the sports world with fellow Patriots fans in mourning (wait until next year!), one of my friends asked me “why does it happen?” My answer was blunt – “horny rich guys with flash cash, who think an annual naughty weekend with the boys at a major sporting event is both cool, allows a sense of reclaimed youth, and know it is treated as ‘socially ok’ are the why.” Not pretty, but true! Sad reality – I am absolutely correct!
We as a culture have made such behaviors socially acceptable. We give a wink, wink, and hail, fare-thee-well pat on the back to those who cross the line; society treat gentlemen’s clubs, escort services with benefits (paid sex) and prostitution as if they were victimless crimes conducted by the gender “with needs.” Anyone who thinks gentlemen frequent gentlemen’s clubs (an oxymoron) is delusional!
And while a good make-up job can make a 16 year old look like a young adult (check out the fashion magazines) anyone including the village idiot and his slow brother can tell up close and personal when someone is NOT an adult in most cases. So the “I didn’t know she was a minor” defense is as lame as it gets.
The notion “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” extends to include behaviors under the influence of alcohol and sporting events. For decades people have used the alcohol defense as cover for bad behavior. “See how good I am sober..it was the (fill in the blank..vodka, beer, etc) that made me do it!” Yeh, and who tied you down, force-feeding booze down your gullet? I’m sure it was someone else’s signature on the bar tab. Let’s call it for what it is – bad behavior and take responsibility for it.
It plays out pretty simply….After purchasing a pretty young thing for the weekend or the hour at a Super Bowl, or Sweet Sixteen or Final Four or …. “Mr. Family Man” returns to Mayberry as father, banker, and coach at Little League; only his similarly behaviored buddies being the wiser.
We as a society have given tacit approval – the “boys will be boys” defense to people who whore around enjoying sex for money with mostly women & children who are drugged, pimped, controlled, beaten, kidnapped, held against their will. Alas to most, prostitution, pornography and “hiring” (buying) women (many of whom are underage), are all victimless non-issues. A colleague in the city, reading in the morning newspaper that a prominent attorney (married, with a young child and a new baby) was arrested for soliciting a prostitute, noted “what’s the big deal, it’s only sex?!” Hmmm sounds like the “excuse” chanted by an adoring choir of loyalists, after one of our presidents was caught in the act, but I’ll avoid naming names.
Human trafficking, rape for pay, prostitution and the sex trade as “victimless” extracurricular activities? Nothing could be farther from the truth! And shame on anyone who actually thinks these are non-issues, or that we should be able to do and pay for whatever pastimes and pleasures we can afford or are willing to explore. This is the United States – NOT Thailand! Not Afghanistan. Not Saudi Arabia. Not some Sub Saharan region. Not South America. If we like to talk about ourselves as that “shining city on the hill,” dammit, let’s act like it! If as Eisenhower exhorted us decades ago to be the example we wish to share, we have certainly missed the memo, unless we think perpetuating a slave trade within, into and through our borders is socially acceptable and a reflection of our values as a nation and a people. Count me out!
Now before anyone thinks this is a screed against men, let me be clear – most men in general and many attendees to the Super Bowl are gentlemen, will enjoy the camaraderie of sporting events or other large draw activities without getting drunk, buying women & children, or dishonoring their families. My male friends are officers & gentlemen, enlisted & honorable, or civilian and truly decent. But there are enough men who are NOT gentlemen, who are ‘the demand’ that fuels ‘the supply’ of minors and young women to satisfy the Super Bowl weekend driven sex trade that we must discuss this problem, put a Scarlet Letter upon the buyers necks NOT those who are purchased. It is time we stop blaming the trafficked and start denouncing, dismantling and discouraging the trafficking…and the traffickers. And lets remove all political and social cover from folks who buy people for sex.
Did slavery end in 1865?
The underground world of the Super Bowl is a bazaar – and people have price tags as merchandise for sale.
The character “Julia” in the television show “Designing Women” once opined after denouncing the cover of a sex magazine which sported a woman in chains with a leash held by a man, that if a black man replaced the woman, there’d be an enormous outcry against such terrible imagery. That was over 20 years ago – so where is the outcry against trafficking in women – symbolically or in actuality?
Human Trafficking (HT) is a multibillion dollar global commercial enterprise that engages in the purchase and sale or purchase and renting of human beings – mostly female, often children.
People as a commodity is nothing new. To the victor, the spoils is an age old axiom and practice. In ancient times members of a conquered society were pressed into slavery to serve the elite of the conquering society.
Today if one were to talk about human bondage, kidnapping as a source of slavery, especially ‘white slavery,’ thoughts likely would focus on Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, or perhaps Southeast Asia and Thailand, where the Bangkok region has become a sort of ‘People WalMart’ where pedophiles, perverts and those wishing to purchase people for pleasure can stalk the aisles (streets and back alleys) for boys, girls, women and men – all sharing two things in common…a price tag around their necks and someone who markets/controls/owns them.
I’m sure you’d be shocked to learn Saudi Arabia was one of the last countries to make slavery illegal – in the 1980’s!!!! Glad they didn’t waste any time getting ahead of that human rights issue. But then we know their track record on women’s rights.
“We must become the change we wish to see in the world”
Recently I interviewed an amazing woman for an upcoming article on human trafficking – Nancy Rivard – a flight attendant with a major domestic airline, who is founder and heads up Airline Ambassadors. Airline Ambassadors is a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping children. She and her organization’s first mission was to get a poor child living overseas who was on the brink of death, lifesaving medical treatment in the US. Like most charitable visionaries, she is “all in” with her 3 T’s of philanthropy – time, talent and treasure.
To date she and her organization have helped orphans around the world. My recent interest in and growing involvement with Airline Ambassadors centers around Ms Rivards efforts to combat the trafficking of children.
It should not be shocking to learn that commercial air travel is one of the transportation choices for human trafficking. Ms. Rivard noted on several routes from South America to the US, New York & Miami in particular – that each flight had several people who fit the profile of possible human trafficking victims.
To a security professional like me, this is an intervention opportunity, even a prevention one. To an airline this is a revenue source that could be affected. Harsh? Yes but in a bottom line world, an absolute part of any internal discussion. And while exact or even good data on the number of human trafficking victims, especially minors, being flown on airliners is difficult to obtain publicly, I would bet airlines have a good estimation. It would be bad business to not know the range of customer cohorts you derive profit from. Consider the commercial reality…If every airline has people every day who are trafficked and flying on their planes – especially long haul routes, especially emanating from countries known for kidnapping & ransom (K & R) and/or human trafficking, well, you do the math!
In 2008 Innocents At Risk launched its Flight Attendant Initiative, providing approximately one third of American Airlines’ 19,000 flight attendants with vital information on human trafficking compiled ito a brochure “Protecting Women and Children form Human Trafficking.” The brochure alerts flight attendants to the signs of trafficking and gives them the National Hotline Number 1.888.373.7888. Innocents at Risk works closely with Airline Ambassadors. For additional information visit their websites: www.innocentsatrisk.org and www.airlineamb.org Other organizations work checking out include www.humantrafficking.change.org.
This initiative is now named “Operation Blue Lightening” by the US Department of Homeland Security. It is also endorsed by the State Department, ICE and other agencies.
Clearly integrating this into all domestic carrier flight attendant training and emergency protocols would help airline personnel identify children who may be victims of human trafficking. Not surprising, to date, most airlines, like the Super Bowl Committee, have demurred from getting involved. American Airlines has demonstrated some willingness to at least discuss the issue, having done a small write up on Ms. Rivard and Airline Ambassadors in an in-flight magazine. They like other carriers need to do more.
Undeterred, Ms. Rivard has taught some of her flight attendant colleagues – resulting in the identification and rescue of several children from the hands of their captors/traffickers/pimps.
What is needed?
We as a society have to loudly voice “enough is enough!” These are not victimless crimes. Yes there are some in the sex trade who dare I suggest enjoy their chosen profession and are truly doing it of their own free will. They are the minority. Few would honestly say as children “when I grow up I want to be trafficked as a sex partner engaging in “paid rape” or that I want to be controlled, even beaten like a beast of burden, or marketed like a product. So let us as a society develop a dose of honesty and call this horrid practice of child pornography, child sex trade for what it is – an abomination and a denial of basic human rights. That it is a thriving industry in the US is a pox on our house – we should all be ashamed!
We have to develop the resources to help the victims – largely the underaged – get back into society. There are precious few beds nationwide to house minors who have been trafficked, let alone the programs vital to help them be reclaimed, retrained and protected. These children who have been trafficked need a safe environment to finish growing up. They need teachers, and doctors, social workers and folks who will supply some love and TLC. Such programs and havens are few and far between. When my students and I ran a free medical practice for run-a-way and abused teens – kids who were NOT truant, delinquent or troubled, unless you call having ones’ parents, caregivers or guardians beat you to a point that you run a way a truant – there were less than 12 beds for such teens. And this was on Long Island – arguably one of the wealthiest demographics in the US!
We as a society must stop turning a blind eye to the sex industry & human trafficking, and stop thinking “it’s only sex.” We spend more time debating whether homosexuals should have the right to marry than we do denouncing the ‘kinder-sexualization’ going on in society. Our public argument on what consenting adults do in the privacy of loving relationships has somehow gotten lumped into a national discourse on morality, when the most indecent of moral behaviors – sex with minors & trafficking human beings – run rampant in the US. Personally the very notion that one group can justify restricting basic human rights on another group is repugnant. Whether it was debating the notion were blacks as human as whites, or could women handle the vote or should gays have equal spousal rights – we’d be better served as a species spending less time partitioning populations’ rights/dignity, and more time rescuing the vulnerable.
Having travelled into regions where women can be stoned, burned or beaten for disobeying their brother or boyfriend –and children, especially young girls exist to pleasure older men – I often ask myself “are we really in the 21st century?” The very notion that one has to “obey” anyone or anything other than the laws of society and God is repulsive.
In English, we have allowed a generation of children to be raised on, force fed and brainwashed into thinking it is ok to transition for Santa to sex. The distance between innocence and provocative has perilously diminished; and yet children remain developmentally the same over time – they must go through natural transitional/maturing phases – not only in the physical but in the cognitive. Wearing an F/M outfit at 12 does not hasten the internal maturity clock, but it does hasten the sexualization of children – much to their detriment. Adolescents indeed mature from the outside then inside. Their bodies may look 19 but their brains are still at 13. A bad combination when left unchecked and unprotected. Thank you TV, Madison Avenue, oh and yes, the parents who think being popular is more important than being appropriate.
We must expect and where needed empower our local & state law enforcement to get more proactive. And when they don’t, then we need to loudly and assertively encourage them to get on board. There is NO security when our children are vulnerable.
We must uphold the law far better than we are doing. Whether it is US contractors working overseas who, using intermediaries, essentially obtain indentured workers (Third Country Nationals or TCNs) as ersatz slaves, without fear of consequence (to date none has been convicted of serious breach of federal law, while in fact this is a significant and profitable problem) or the ‘employment’ or trafficking of minors in dark corners of our communities or relatively in the open at so called gentlemen’s clubs (are the girls really adults – is anyone checking?) – we must deal with these issues as victim NOT victimless crimes, prosecute the perpetrators, make the penalties far worse than the profit and rescue the victims. All easier said than done.
Let’s start contacting our airlines, especially those with which we have a fair amount of loyalty points (a gold or platinum member does carry some weight with hotels and airlines) and make it clear they need to do their part in addressing human trafficking, especially since they have profited by it – intentionally or not. Ugly truth… airlines have benefit from their seats being conveyances in the sex and trafficking trade. The cure may be painful, the liability risks may be part of a learning curve, but done correctly, airlines can help stem the flow of people with price tags about their necks.
And why should we do all these when A. there is a great demand, B. there is a lot of money to be made and C. few seem to give a darn? For starters because we care about homeland security. K & R/HT are among the top revenue sources for global terrorism and international crime. It is in our best interest to dry up the money well for the bad guys. Then of course – who are behind K&R/HT? Russian mobs, organized crime, drug cartels. We have open the flood gates and allowed these folks near free reign – Russians in Miami, New York, New Jersey, drug cartels in Florida, Texas, California, Arizona. International crime – pick your city. Terrorists? Follow the dollar.
But the most compelling reason? Our children are our future. If we don’t protect them, who will? It always strikes me as bizarre that a so called family man, who by all accounts loves his own children, would then hire someone else’s kid to have sex with him.
Where do we go from here?
At Family Security Matters we know that there is no real national security when the family is not secure. Victims of human trafficking are often kidnapped right out of middle class, middle American communities. They are pulled into a seductive life often at a vulnerable time developmentally.
We cannot address this problem without first acknowledging it exists, and then interceding at critical prevention points –
· Parents and teachers must be more aware and better equipped to forearm and forewarn children
· Communities need to collaborate across professional disciplines – from law enforcement and social workers who can build a protective infrastructure, to philanthropists who can provide resources, to volunteers who can lend a hand, to health care facilities to identify potential victims, to the media and major commercial enterprises that can spread the word and use their prodigious resources to limit opportunities to freely move or transport those who are trafficked as mere commodities.
How do we get involved?
Wanting to is the first step.
I’m not suggesting we boycott the Super Bowl. Why penalize the good folk who truly are attending for the “event” of it all. Granted the average person or family cannot afford to attend, but the national, even international interest in the US and our football give us the opportunity to display our best characteristics, not our worst.
That said, the Super Bowl Committee should step up and be part of the solution. On their website (www.northtexasuperbowl.com) they state “In fulfilling its obligations and executing its duties, the Host Committee will function in a moral, ethical and responsive manner.” They picked a bad time to develop ignorance! And while they may act in such a manner, and avoid the temptation of buying a 16 year old girl as a pleasure mate, their trying to ignore the dirty little secret of the Super Bowl is hardly living up to the spirit of their lofty pronouncement! It is tantamount to approving of, even supporting the practice of sex slavery, human trafficking of minors and rape for pay. Roger Staubach and his committee hardly seem the type to endorse such evil practices. But that is precisely what he and his team do when ignoring an opportunity to support organizations that are trying to slow the tide of human trafficking in Dallas Super Bowl Weekend. Organizations such as “I’m not Buying it,” “Shared Hope International,” “Traffick/911” and “Airline Ambassadors.” As of this writing, such collaboration has not occurred. I’d be happy to hear the Super Bowl Committee has had a change of heart and is loudly/actively speaking out against Human Trafficking.
We can encourage that “change of heart” by contacting the Super Bowl Committee now for a list of committee members, and for their website, and future ones – let them know it is time for the Super Bowl to stop being a magnet for prostitution and human trafficking, and to take a stand against these practices. It will not deter ticket, t-shirt or souvenir sales, nor will it prevent people from coming. Just, perhaps, a different kind of person may start to attend! Suggest members of the Committee (Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Emmit Smith for example) join former New England Patriot player Devin Wymen and other sports figures who are asking men planning on attending the Super Bowl not to taint their experience by funding sex slavery.
Reach out to your local Congressman to encourage resources to support human trafficking legislation that has and continues to be passed. Laws without resources to enforce them or opportunities to help the victims are as meaningless and without protection as a temporary restraining order. No piece of paper has yet to stop a bullet or knife. Laws are only as good as the people behind them, and the good will and effort that results from them.
Reach out to grass roots organizations that are making a difference in their communities and try to develop similar ones in yours.
Volunteer. As of now a large outreach program is being developed for Dallas. Law enforcement from the US and abroad as well as volunteers and advocated from across the country – rookies and those who have been doing this a long time, will meet up this week and into next week. These groups of volunteers will be working with law enforcement and organizations well schooled in addressing human trafficking. Will you join in and collaborate in the Dallas metroplex? Opportunities for training and participation still exist. For more information check out airline ambassadors or contact email@example.com for more information and to support their efforts. You can also contact 1.866.ANGEL-86 or www.traffick911.com.
“The measure of a society is judged by how well it treats its weakest members”
Would anyone argue children are our weakest members? An enlightened society is tasked with protecting and developing its young.
Super Bowl or Super Sex Bazaar – will our premier national sports event and others like it continue to be magnets for human trafficking, human misery and sex slavery, as well as the torment and denigration of minors? The Super Bowl is two weeks away, March Madness is a month away – will we sit by and do nothing or get involved, stand up to these patterns and practices of human trafficking, and uphold the virtues of human decency, patriotism, so that we can ensure a level of family security that matters?
“I address this to you – a very young woman still – who was born to be happy, and has lived miserably; who has no prospect before her but sorrow, or behind her a wasted youth.”
Charles Dickens’ Letter To Fallen Women
10,000 people – a significant proportion will be underage (children) girls, trafficked during the ‘festivities’ of the Super Bowl. It happened last year, it will happen next year. Unless we say in one voice: “Enough!”
FamilySecurityMatters.orgContributing Editor Dr. Robin McFee is a physician and medical toxicologist. A nationally recognized expert in WMD preparedness, she is a consultant to government agencies, corporations and the media. Dr. McFee is the former director and cofounder of the Center for Bioterrorism Preparedness (CB PREP) and was bioweapons – WMD adviser to the Regional Domestic Security Task Force Region 7 after 911, as well as advisor on avian and swine flu preparedness to numerous agencies and organizations. Dr. McFee is a member of the Global Terrorism, Political Instability and International Crime Council of ASIS International, and member of the US Counterterrorism Advisory Team. She has delivered over 400 invited lectures since 9-11, authored more than 100 articles on terrorism, health care and preparedness, and coauthored two books: Toxico-Terrorism by McGraw Hill and The Handbook of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Agents, published by Informa/CRC Press.