I have something to talk about. It’s not pretty; it’s actually quite revolting. It will probably make you angry, most definitely make you sick, and it’s not at all what you would think about when talking about Super Bowl XLIX coming to Arizona this February.
But it might — just might — make you disgusted enough to stand up against an atrocity that flies in the face of freedom, humanity, and civilized society in this great country. I’m talking about modern-day sex slavery, the human trafficking of women and children for the purpose of prostitution, and you should be talking about it too.
Here are the facts:
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• As the fastest growing organized crime industry nationwide and raking in approximately $9.6 billion, sex trafficking involves the sale of young girls and women for $25 each to up to 50 men each day. You read that right, up to 50 men a day.
• Driven by the laws of supply and demand, as long as there remains a demand for commercial sex there will remain a supply from individuals willing to profit from its sale. (Arizona Human Trafficking Council, 2014)
• Though sex slavery statistics are difficult to quantify, it is estimated that more than half of all victims are under the age of 18.
• Every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry. It is estimated that at least 100,000 children are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. (Whitehead, 2014)
• One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. (National Runaway Hotline) (The Covering House, 2014)
• The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice) (The Covering House, 2014)
• The industry life for those being sold for sex is seven years. That’s seven years of living nightmares of endless rape, forced drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the constant fear of being killed or, worse, having those you love hurt or killed. (Whitehead, 2014)
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• The Department of Justice has identified Phoenix as one of the top human trafficking jurisdictions in the country.
What does this have to do with the NFL?
Everything. The Super Bowl is known as the single largest human trafficking event in the United States.
Did you know that? I sure didn’t, and as a football fan for as long as I can remember, I frankly feel like I should have known. Like most fans, I read sports articles, listen to sports radio, and engage in sports commentary on social media. I watch the sports networks, and I haven’t seen much of anything about sex trafficking. It’s not happening — that’s why it’s not being talked about, right?
Have you been to Las Vegas? I have. I’ve seen the same billboards on vehicles going up and down the Strip year after year after year. Same with the masses of smut peddlers that flick, slap and snap their glossy porn advertisements into the hands of pedestrians. That’s promoting prostitution, and it’s not exclusive to Sin City. I’ve also been to the Super Bowl, and I’ve never seen anything to connect the dots that this revolting industry is flourishing under the guise of the NFL’s biggest game. That’s because I’ve been oblivious to it.
I’m a fan of the game. A crazy, passionate fan of my team, their players, their coaches and ownership, their division, and the league. Surprisingly, I’m still a fan despite all the crap the NFL has made headlines for this year. This has been the year of all years for the National Football League as it continues to mismanage the epidemic that is domestic violence along with other issues of head trauma, suicides, player health, marijuana use, PEDs, disciplinary policies, power, money and control.
All in all, it’s been a very nauseating time for football as leadership complacency continues to exacerbate these issues. One thing is for sure: failure to act perpetuates culpability. The NFL does not directly cause domestic violence, however the league’s failure to act has enabled it to continue.
The same can be said for sex slavery.
The NFL does not directly cause sex slavery of women and children, however the league’s failure to act enables it to continue. Year after year, victim advocacy groups ask the NFL what they are going to do about sex trafficking of women and children and all they get is lip service.
In August of this year, Cindy McCain ripped the National Football League, saying it has ignored sex-trafficking activity associated with its marquee event, the Super Bowl, which is going to her home state of Arizona in February.
“I have met with them on two occasions now, and they absolutely have done nothing. They’ve given us great lip service, but they’ve done nothing. And all we wanted them to do was acknowledge the fact that it’s a problem and acknowledge the fact that they’re going to try to help on this,” said McCain, wife of U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona and a national spokeswoman on sex-trafficking issues.
McCain said NFL players could be influential role models on this issue, “and yet the NFL won’t talk about it.” (Belden, 2014).
This history of silence, of knowingly allowing unacceptable practices either within the NFL or within its sphere of influence with no recourse is a reflection of tolerance; but then people started talking. As a result of public outrage, the NFL responded with policy changes and the establishment of a panel of senior advisers, including a former New York City sex crimes prosecutor and two domestic violence experts, reflecting the NFL’s commitment to change. On Wednesday, Oct. 8, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell concluded the annual Fall League Meeting that highlighted the league’s personal conduct policy as well as issues of social responsibility. It was the perfect setting to address the issue of sex slavery and the Super Bowl. If they did, the NFL isn’t talking publicly about it. And my request for comment was not returned by the NFL League Office.
It’s sickening to know that johns will travel from all over this country, maybe even the world, not to watch the NFC and AFC battle to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in America’s favorite game, but to pay to have sex with women or children — like they did in Florida, in Texas, in New Orleans, and in New Jersey.
These slimy, vile, scum of the earth are coming to this amazing country and this beautiful state of Arizona to pay for sex. And let’s be painfully honest here: those providing the services are not in it for the fun. They are the marginalized, the victimized, the kidnapped, the abused, the hurting, the drug-induced, the lost, the trafficked, women, teenagers and children. They are the 21st-century slaves to the soulless pimps who force them to have sex with up to 50 deviants a day — or pay the penalty. Or, be forced to watch as a friend pays the penalty for them. This stuff is happening right now.
Yet the NFL has nothing to say.
For some people, the Super Bowl has nothing to do with football…
The state of Arizona is not sitting idle waiting for inevitability to run its course or for the NFL to grow a backbone. In 2011, Tom Horne, the Arizona Attorney General, formed the Underage Sex-Trafficking Coalition to work with State leaders to craft legislation to end trafficking of young and vulnerable teens in Arizona. In July, they launched a public awareness campaign including sports figures like Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, Phoenix Suns President Jason Rowley, President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes Anthony Leblanc, Sportscaster Mark Lewis, and Kurt and Brenda Warner. The goal is to bring awareness, deter demand, and punish those that exploit children.
In 2013, Governor Jan Brewer established the Task Force on Human Trafficking to address the horrors of sex trafficking, strengthen Arizona statutes, initiate legislation reform for stronger penalties for johns and pimps, and promote victim advocacy to reduce human trafficking and provide help to restore dignity for the victims. The Arizona Human Trafficking Council followed up on recommendations from the task force’s report to “promote greater collaboration with law enforcement, state agencies, and the community-at-large; and raise public awareness about victims services, restitution and prevention” (Arizona Human Trafficking Council, 2014).
As a result of collective action, exclusive of the NFL, the state of Arizona is now at the forefront of fighting against human trafficking in the United States. They have been proactive, intentional, and committed to changing the legal landscape and have successfully implemented one of the nation’s toughest laws against sex trafficking. It’s time to start talking about it.
The message is clear: Not here. Not now. Not anymore. Arizona is not buying it. “Whether you come from across the country or down the street, women and girls in Arizona are not for sale,” said Glendale Police Chief Debbie Black. “It’s time that criminals who purchase sex from children know that the secret is out, and Arizona’s not going to stand for it. It just takes ordinary people being informed, standing up and making a statement.”
Legislation has been amended, resources have been strengthened, and law enforcement is ready. Churches are praying, victim services have been improved, advertising campaigns are ongoing, and hotlines are in effect as the state of Arizona continues to do all it can to fight this heinous crime. The battle is not over and more help is needed, but with stronger laws, more severe punishments, public awareness and victim services advocacy, Arizona is fighting against the atrocities of sex slavery for today and every day: freedom, humanity and civilized society is worth fighting for. One person at a time.
Now it’s your turn to take a stand.
ADI New Services. (2014, July 25). Arizona’s Not Buying It calls for a different kind of boycott. Retrieved from https://www.arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/07/25/arizona-attorney-general-calls-for-a-different-kind-of-boycott/
Arizona Human Trafficking Council. (2014). Official Website. https://www.endsextrafficking.az.gov/about-human-trafficking.html
Belden, D. (2014, Aug. 31). Cindy McCain challenges NFL to tackle sex trafficking during Super Bowl. Retrieved from https://www.twincities.com/politics/ ci_26367341/cindy-mccain-challenges-nfl-tackle-sex-trafficking-during
Cassidy, M. & Ruelas, R. (2014, July 24). Valley sports figures supports new sex-trafficking law. Retrieved from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2014/07/24/sex-trafficking-psa-abrk/13118499/
The Covering House. (2014). Official Website. http:/thecoveringhouse.org/act/resources-2/sex-trafficking-statistics-source-documentation
Grove, B. (2014, Jan. 31). Klobuchar to NFL: Help stop sex trafficking during Super Bowl. Retrieved from https://bringmethenews.com/2014/01/31/klobuchar-to-nfl-do-more-to-stop-sex-trafficking-during-super-bowl/
Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona. (2014). Official Website. https://www.azgovernor.gov/HTTF/
Maurer, M. (2014, July 24). Arizona crackdown on human trafficking goes into effect. Retrieved from https://ktar.com/22/1753087/Arizona-crackdown-on-human-trafficking-goes-into-effect
Whitehead, J. (2014, Oct. 1). “America’s Dirty Little Secret.” Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/americas-dirty-little-sec_3_b_5901700.html