A variety of traditions characterize Super Bowl Sunday, the unofficial sports holiday in America.
Besides the obvious viewing of the game, much of these beloved, common customs include fun and games that involve the gluttonous consumption of food and alcohol while surrounded by friends and family.
Expensive TV commercials—memorable for either their ingenuity or notoriety—and the unfailingly hyped halftime show also mark this monumental occasion.
Super Bowl Sunday serves as one glorious, nationwide party.
However, beneath all the cheer and excitement surrounding the Super Bowl lies an insidiously vile practice, the not-so-secret, but routinely ignored, world of human trafficking.
For decades, human traffickers, often members of a well-organized criminal ring, have exploited innocent young girls and even boys in forced prostitution. They lure these naive children with the promise of quick, easy money or sometimes abduct them, forcing them to work as their sex slaves afterwards.
A 2007 report, sponsored by the Department of Justice and released by nonprofit group Shared Hope International, revealed that up to 300,000 girls alone, ages of 11-17, are lured into the sex industry annually.
According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, sex trafficking during the Super Bowl will bring as many as 100,000 children to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“The Super Bowl is a magnet for for child sex traffickers,” Abbott said. He added that Texas law enforcement officials wanted to “get ahead of the curve” in combating child prostitution at this year’s event.
During the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami Beach, child outreach professionals reported that they observed a surge in young women, at least four times as many, working the streets in the weeks leading up to the game.
Sex trafficking, as abhorrent and illegitimate a practice as it is, naturally would not exist without supply and demand.
With the influx of money and a party atmosphere of the Super Bowl, many “Johns” seek the services of child prostitutes—and not just at the actual site of the Super Bowl.
A quick peek on Craigslist exposes that sex trafficking occurs in cities all over the country usually under the guise of “hotel parties” or “Super Bowl parties,” which surge during this time.
While law enforcement and victim advocates have gone to extra lengths to crack down on human trafficking, their efforts unfortunately fall short without more public awareness and support of anti-human trafficking.
No better method of generating awareness and support exists than for the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee to come out in condemnation of human trafficking in the strongest terms.
However, for reasons unspecified, both parties have chosen to remain mum on the subject. Their silence remains a downright shame and represents an implicit endorsement of this atrocious, sad reality that victimizes young girls and boys everywhere.
The NFL will crown a winner at the end of today’s Super Bowl, but such a victory can only be viewed as a cruel irony because no such winners emerge in this dirty, abusive game of human trafficking.