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Super Bowl is Big Business for Human Traffickers

Sports are big business. Right now, advertisers are busy in all media markets promoting the Winter Olympics and the culmination of another season of our nation’s obsession with football: the Super Bowl.

But marketers, media personalities, coaches, players and fans are not the only ones with a red circle around Feb. 2 on their calendars. The Super Bowl is big business for human traffickers.

New Jersey native and sex trafficking survivor Danielle Douglas says: “The Super Bowl is a huge, huge arena for sex trafficking. Some visitors are coming to the Super Bowl not even to watch football – they are coming to the Super Bowl to have sex with women, and/or men or children.”

According to the Polaris Project, sex trafficking is only part of the larger commercial sex industry.

The venues for sex trafficking can include gentlemen’s or strip clubs, hostess clubs, escort services, massage businesses, brothels and street prostitution.

Determining exactly how many people are involved in trafficking is a daunting task due to the hidden nature of the crime.

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is a $9.5 billion industry in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.

They also estimate that 300,000 children in this country are at risk of being trafficked sexually right now.

Officials in New Jersey are preparing for the onslaught of traffickers, ironically during January, which has been named “Human Trafficking Awareness Month.”

Training has been provided for every segment of the population. Churches too are equipping members to look for potential victims.

Prosecution in New Jersey may be difficult due to the law that, according to the state attorney general’s office, must involve a buyer and seller of sex and a pimp or trafficker controlling the transaction.

Resources are plentiful for persons willing to educate themselves on the issue of trafficking, identification of victims, advocacy and ways to be involved in combatting modern-day slavery.

The Polaris Project, the Initiative Against Human Trafficking and TraffickStop are a few organizations providing information about identifying suspicious activity and stopping trafficking.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline’s information should be a contact in everyone’s phone. They can be reached at (888) 373-7888 or by texting HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).

In the U.S., the perception has been, for quite some time, that sex trafficking was a problem “over there.”

Identification of it as a problem within our own borders is on the rise, but the international scope of the problem is still overwhelming.

At the fall meeting of the Global Women board of directors, they voted to include sex trafficking as one of the five issues the organization would address through global partnerships.

Global Women envisions a world where every woman is empowered by the love of God, valued by her community and equipped to fulfill her unique purpose.

Motivated by Christ, Global Women acts as a catalyst for positive change on behalf of vulnerable women as they partner with indigenous Christian women leaders and like-minded organizations.

Their global partnerships address sex trafficking, clean water, maternal health, education and economic development.

In 2014, Global Women has partnerships addressing sex trafficking and prevention in Moldova and two central Asian countries. Natasha Klapanyuk directs the Restoration Department for Beginning of Life in Moldova.

Her ministry includes the House of Change, a rehabilitation center for teenage girls and women who have been trafficked.

Natasha will be the international guest of the organization at their annual Global Women Summit on March 7-8 in St. Louis.

Trudy Johnson is associate director of Global Women in Pelham, Ala. You can follow Global Women on Twitter @GlobalWomenGo.