06 February, 2012

Trafficking & The Super Bowl

It is estimated that over 10,000 children were brought into Dallas last year during Super Bowl weekend to be sold for sex. 

Read that again - 10,000 children brought into Dallas to be sold for sex. 

The Super Bowl in Dallas (the Super Bowl in general) is sadly far from the only sporting event where traffickers appear for the event and then leave town.

Here is a quote from a Huffington Post article with an example of what happens: 
...A trafficker was arrested and imprisoned for selling two girls, 14 and 18, as "a Super Bowl special." Or there's the story of A.H., who was involuntarily taken to Dallas/Ft. Worth last year where she was beaten, raped and enslaved not far from Dallas Cowboys stadium. Bluntly speaking, these are lost and broken children whose profit value is magnified this week by the Super Bowl. 
Before this year's Super Bowl in Indy there was training done with hotel staff & cab drivers on what to look for. The national human trafficking resource center number (888-3737-888) was distributed, and Gov. Daniels "signed Senate Enrolled Act 4, a piece of legislation that will create stricter penalties regarding sex-trafficking in Indiana (DNonline)."
The Olympics are this summer. I am interested to see what approach London takes. Greece chose to ban the action, but did nothing to address what was really going on. Just because we can't see the crime doesn't mean it's not being committed. Maybe by upping the cost for purchasers and traffickers and increasing basic public awareness, we can do something to decrease the profit made by selling people around a major sporting event. I would like to see the NASCAR and cities hosting the NBA Playoffs and World Series take the same initiative as Indy (and Dallas) did.

What if every hotel displayed the National Hotline Number? What if we did more to education hotel staff, cabbies, and truck stop workers on the signs of trafficking? What if people did more to intervene instead of passing off the situation with judgment?

It is too early to say what impact the training and law had. It is too soon to know how many children were shuttled into the city. But at least the conversation was there. At least there was a public awareness, and action by the legislature, to say trafficking occurs. And conversation is usually the first step to bring about real, lasting change.