Commercials, Hot Wings, and the Underbelly of the Super Bowl

Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010
Trafficking In Persons Report Map 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow night many North Americans will gather around large television sets with nachos, Doritos, hot wings, special vegetable platters ala Pinterest, and beer, watching the sporting event that draws in arguably the largest audience of the year, both in person and through network television. It’s the Super Bowl. Some will watch for the football, others (like me) will watch for the commercials and to be with friends.

And every year I have to go ruining it for readers. 

Because every year I post about human trafficking on the weekend of the Super Bowl. And I’ll never stop. Not until the problem stops. 

Sex trafficking and prostitution at the Super Bowl is the underbelly of the event. It can’t be ignored. 

It is hypothesized that the Super Bowl is the number one event in the United States that caters to men and their sexual appetites, bringing in young girls trafficked for the occasion. Many of these girls are between the ages of 12-14, lured into sex trafficking through devious methods, robbed of family and childhood and at the mercy of men and women with evil intent. While in recent years this has been debated, the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking acknowledges this debate about the issue and posted a statement on its website geared toward those who downplay the issue.

“Currently, there are very few ways of collecting statistics on human trafficking,” it said, adding that governments believe there is a “potential increase and have tackled the issue for the last three years of the Super Bowl.”* They are careful to add this: 

“The problem of human trafficking in New Jersey will not end with the Super Bowl.”—New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking

“The Super Bowl is also an opportunity to educate the community. People will stop and listen if you mention Super Bowl but not necessarily if you just talk about human trafficking,” the group said. In other words – let’s use this event to bring up the issue and then continue the conversation after it is over.

It’s a blight on an evening that brings people together for commercials, hot wings, and maybe a little football. 

The game will take place at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and features the Seattle Seahawks playing against the Denver Broncos. The Attorney General’s office of New Jersey has taken this problem seriously and responded by training almost 3000 people to recognize the signs of sex trafficking. Just this week law enforcement broke up a major prostitution and drug ring based out of Manhattan and under investigation for almost a year, arresting and indicting many.

I’d rather ignore this and eat my hot wings. Not because I don’t care – I do care – but it’s not comfortable to be challenged with information when you feel helpless to make any changes. But ignoring this fact doesn’t make it go away, it doesn’t make it okay for the girls. It just might make the nachos, wings, and commercials go down a little easier.

But they’re not supposed to go down easy. We are supposed to care about these things, we are supposed to know about them. And if we can’t do anything physically we can give money and pray for those who do.

To that end, here are two organizations that work to end human trafficking that are reputable and doing excellent work:

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*”The Exodus Road exists to empower the rescue of victims of sexual slavery. Operating primarily in Southeast Asia and India, we believe that a major component of fighting human trafficking and child slavery lies in working with local law enforcement to find situations of trafficking and to then assist in the rescue of victims and the prosecution of criminals. By decreasing the profitability of the trafficking industry for the criminal, we will eventually slow the mechanisms that make the exploitation of women and children so lucrative” I met Laura Parker, one of the founders of The Exodus Road, this year through blogging. I guarantee this is an organization worth looking into, worth praying for, worth supporting.

Take 3 minutes to watch this short film that gives a glimpse into lives changed through rescue.

*”Shared Hope International strives to prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, restore victims of sex slavery, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children. We envision a world passionately opposed to sex trafficking and a committed community restoring survivors to lives of purpose, value and choice – one life at a time.”

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Some would say it is wrong to use the Super Bowl to draw attention to this issue, some would say “We don’t really know whether these statistics are true.” I would say, let’s use this event as a time to draw attention to an issue that struggles to even gather data to support it, so devious are those who participate in the activity. 

A couple of years ago when I first found out about this problem I wrote this and I stand by it today:

“If there is one thing I know about you who read Communicating Across Boundaries – you are pro-women. From Blue Bras to Arranged Marriages to Mothering to Feminism – you are about women and who we are, who we can be.  So take a stand this Superbowl and let people know about sex trafficking. Introduce them to The Exodus Road and Shared Hope International. Let’s all find out more and see what we can collectively do to make a difference. There’s a lot of stuff, good and bad that comes out every week about women, and much of it polarizes women instead of bringing us together. Let’s join forces by focusing on an issue I’d like to think everyone could agree on.”

If even one person is helped or made aware of this issue through this blog post than it is worth it. Let us not lose our souls in false innocence — this exists and we are the better for knowing and learning how to pray, learning where to give.

*Information comes directly from websites of these organizations

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4 thoughts on “Commercials, Hot Wings, and the Underbelly of the Super Bowl

  1. Very well timed article, and although I read it after the Superbowl finished, it is also a good time to bring up trafficking in expat communities. Many Americans do not want to believe that ‘it could happen in our own backyard’. Most expat Americans will be a little more open to hearing about it, but we too can get tied up in our everyday lives and forget there are those who deal with this *every single day*. Our Superbowl parties bring together many members of our staff (American, dual, UK, Canadian, etc) and it is an opportunity to stand up and speak out in a public forum. I visited a friend who does work in this area in Thailand over Christmas…. I need to talk about it more. Good reminder. Thanks.

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  2. I’ve tweeted this so it’ll go to facebook as well. Thank you for being a regular reminder of us that these things we could never dream would be connected with a football game do, horrendously, exist and are taking place under our noses. I’m sure it’s not just the Superbowl that it flows around.

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