Sex trafficking is a major issue that occurs all year round, and not just before, during, and after the biggest game in the sport.
TAMPA, Florida – The busting of human trafficking for Super Bowl LIV in Miami last year was hailed as a “success”. 94 men were covertly arrested during the 2018 Minneapolis Big Game.
In the run-up to Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Hillsborough County’s Sheriff’s Office launched Operation Interception, announcing prostitution charges against 71 people.
“As with any major sporting event, the Super Bowl shouldn’t be a place where such crimes occur on the sidelines, be it before, during, or after the game,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister.
The Super Bowl is undoubtedly a big event; and journalists, including those on this station, are tasked with swapping stories before and after the big game. One of the most frequently asked questions: is the Super Bowl the biggest sex trafficking event?
A project by TEGNA broadcaster KHOU-TV in Houston and WXIA-TV in Atlanta, “Selling Girls,” found that the sex trafficking business reached nearly $ 1 billion in 2014, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
There is a thriving underground economy based on selling children for sex. Human traffickers use online ads to connect with victims. It’s a problem in the US and abroad that happens year round.
As mentioned earlier, law enforcement agencies across the country have announced major arrests and operations that will take place before and shortly after the Super Bowl. TV, print and online publications report on these stories annually.
But back to the question: is the Super Bowl the biggest sex trafficking event?
The Anti-Trafficking Review, United Against Human Trafficking, and prominent media outlets.
What we found
According to United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT), a Texas-based organization committed to ending human trafficking through education and empowering survivors, sex trafficking has become a more common topic in recent years. A person who is traded is someone who is forced to be a commodity against their will.
Prostitution, on the other hand, involves a person who is a knowing and willing participant through direct exploitation, poverty, abuse or as a means of income.
Both human trafficking and prostitution are considered sexual exploitation, UAHT said.
Hundreds of people have been rounded up in the area around previous Super Bowls on charges of wanting to pay for sex. 22 women trapped in human trafficking operations were rescued last year, the Miami Herald reported, citing Miami-Dade prosecutor Katherine Fernandez Rundle, during a press conference.
Sexual exploitation remains a serious and ongoing problem, but the Super Bowl is not a major driver. A 2019 study published by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the Anti-Trafficking Review concluded that it is a myth that the Super Bowl is the largest Event for sex trafficking is.
Annie Hill, an assistant professor of rhetoric and writing at UT Austin, and co-author Lauren Martin found that news outlets that linked major sporting events to spikes in sex trafficking helped “distorted views and misguided interventions too.” that do not reduce harm or protect victims. “
In the latest operation by the Hillsborough County’s Sheriff’s Office, the agency announced that its undercover detectives were posting online ads of meeting places for paid sex while undercover detectives posed as prostitutes.
“Our main finding was that the available empirical evidence does not establish a causal or correlative relationship between super bowls and sex trafficking,” said Martin. “Based on the research, we know that online ads for sex may temporarily increase when large public events are held. However, online ads are a substitute for human trafficking and should not be understood as the same thing.”
Analysis of other major events found that the Super Bowl wasn’t unique, the authors wrote.
The Polaris Project, an anti-human trafficking group, told CNN that there were more “prostitution” arrests over the Super Bowl weekend, although “this has largely to do with law enforcement looking for it,” said Spokesman Brandon Bouchard said. He added the trend is to focus on traffickers and those who want to buy sex, not sex workers or human traffickers.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline, which Polaris operates, is also seeing “slight upward movements” in calls and reports during the Super Bowl weekend, though this is largely due to the increased promotion of the hotline, Bouchard said.
A campaign against human trafficking was launched ahead of the Super Bowl LV in Tampa. It’s a Penalty launches its ninth global campaign to educate people on how to identify and report human trafficking.
Speaking to CNN, Bouchard said that adding extra attention to the Super Bowl will help get more people involved in the conversation to figure out how to fight the problem, although it’s not limited to just a weekend.
Sex trafficking and sexual exploitation remain a serious problem and law enforcement agencies and other organizations are working hard to address the problem. However, research doesn’t suggest the Super Bowl is a major driver of the sex trade.
10 Tampa Bay Cares: If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking, help is available. The National Human Trafficking Hotline operates a 24-hour hotline and can be reached by phone at 1-888-373-7888, text message to HELP at BeFree (233733), or chat to discuss your needs, options and resources speak to you are available to help you.
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