Super Bowl May Be Largest Human Trafficking Event in U.S.

February 6, 2013Benny Witkovsky


I’m not a big football fan. I haven’t decided whether or not I’d let my hypothetical son play football, and I’m not sure whether we will all be ashamed to admit we watch it in the future, I’ve just never connected to the sport. But I like beer and cheese (and cheese heads) and I have from time to time found the Super Bowl to be an enjoyable excuse to come together with friends or family – and I hear from those who appreciate the sport more than I that this weekend was a time to come together as a community, if not as a country.

Unfortunately this flagship of America’s pastime has become marred by some of the worst aspects of American society. According to leading advocates and law enforcement agencies, the Super Bowl brings with it some of the largest sex trafficking operations in the country. While there is no concrete measure for the number of people trafficked to New Orleans for the weekend, two years ago Miami police estimated that 10,000 people had been traffickedas prostitutes for that year’s game. And by last Thursday Louisiana police had already made several arrests.


Human trafficking as a human rights crisis both in America and abroad has gained attention in the months since President Obama signed an Executive Order calling on all federal contractors to ensure they were not using trafficked labor. Speaking on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, President Obama called human trafficking “modern day slavery” and demanded that the “United States will be a leader in this global movement” to eradicate it. But crimes like those that took place around the Super Bowl this weekend only show how far we have to go to truly lead that movement.

The Religious Action Center and the Reform Movement have a long history of working on issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery. Taking to heart the call to remember that we were slaves in the land of Egypt and that no one else should be exploited as we once were, we have urged the President and Congress to take stronger action against human trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act – which goes a long way toward identifying, preventing and prosecuting cases of trafficking -  was not reauthorized in the 112thcongress, we sincerely hope that the 113th Congress can find the political will to do so.


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