You Can Help Stop Super Bowl Sex Trafficking

Super Bowl sex trafficking

Super Bowl sex trafficking

By Courtney Cooper and Wesley Russell

This originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on January 20, 2016.

Sara Kruzan grew up with an abusive, drug addicted single mom. By age nine she was depressed and attempting suicide.

At age eleven she met an affectionate 30-year-old man who seemed to be the loving father figure she had yearned for. He said she was special. So special that people should pay for the privilege of having sex with her. Eventually, he had her walking the streets every night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. In between displays of affection he terrorized and raped her to keep her in line. 

“Alissa” had been maltreated at home. But at age 16 she met a charming boy who said she was beautiful, and who wanted to be her boyfriend. Sometimes he was romantic. But other times he strangled and assaulted her, or threatened to sell her to someone who was even more violent if she didn’t prostitute herself every single day of the year. Eventually he did sell her and, when she tried to escape, the new pimp beat her badly, breaking her jaw and ribs.

These stories are typical of girls who get trapped in sex trafficking.

Unfortunately, pimps are good at spotting economically and emotionally needy girls and women. And they know how to manipulate them through a mix of abuse and declarations of love.

Few things are as brutal and damaging as sex trafficking

According to the scientific Journal of Trauma Practice 89 percent of women and girls in prostitution want to escape.

The State Department reports that few activities are as brutal and damaging as sex trafficking. Sixty-eight percent of victims are left fitting the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s similar to rates of combat veterans and victims of state-sponsored torture. Trafficking also harms the wider community through the spread of diseases like Hepatitis B, cervical cancer and HIV-AIDS.

The Super Bowl is coming to town next month and is likely to inflate the number of traffickers and their victims — who will be sold to customers who see them as nothing but objects with no lives, feelings, minds, hopes or dreams of their own.

You and I can help stop modern-day slavery

Super Bowl sex trafficking. Become a voice.

Super Bowl sex trafficking. Become a voice.

We all can help to do something about this travesty.

One option is contacting organizations like the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, which is working with the Super Bowl planning committee to help create solutions to modern-day slavery that includes forced prostitution and various types of coerced labor.

The coalition offers free training to individuals, student groups, faith communities, social clubs, civic groups, nonprofits and businesses in what to look for and what to do.

Examples of what to look for include signs of abuse such as bruising or appearing nervous, disoriented and avoiding eye contact. Children may have tattoos, or clothing that suggests ownership — maybe wording like “Daddy’s Girl.” The clothing may be inappropriate for their age or the weather.

If you see something that looks wrong, what do you do?

If you plug the national trafficking hotline into your phone, you can quickly make a call if you see something that looks suspicious. The number is 1-888-373-7888, and it is available in English, Spanish and more than 200 other languages.

You can also encourage businesses — especially those oriented toward hospitality and tourism — to get trained in stopping trafficking.

Sex trafficking won’t end with the Super Bowl

Of course, the problem won’t come and go with the Super Bowl. Modern-day human slavery is an ongoing problem that needs sustained attention.

We can all do our part to end it in the Bay Area.

Courtney Cooper and Wesley Russell are both students at Foothill College. Courtney is the president of SAGE (Social Action for Gender Equality) and Wesley works with the Human Rights Club.

This originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on January 20, 2016. It is reposted here with permission.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 29, 2016, in feminism, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. This really confuses and irritates me. How does the superbowl bring sex trafficking? Someone at work was just talking about that. I said I thought kids were just kidnapped at the stadiums from their parents, especially since the people at the stadiums are rich and either ceos or doctors, lawyers. The tickers are really, really expensive so rich people are the fans siting in those seats. I’m assuming it’s a big time where out in the city that’s hosting the superbowl, because of all the travelers and money going around that kids who are already captured are sold or traded, not from actually being kidnapped right under their parents nose.

    It’s bad enough as it is, but that would really piss me off. If anything security is extra tight, because it’s the superbowl and the wealthy people that can afford security there. How come if it’s going on around and it’s known that, with all the cops and most likely security out in the clubs and streets that this isn’t seen or stopped or investigated. They should have stings out there. Like they do with to “catch a predator” with a kid or someone acting, and a creep trafficker gets lured over and tries taking the kid and then the cop’s got him and he’s proven himself to be guilty.

  2. Oh and stings just like with prostitution. I would think cops would or could definitely see signs like you said and know who to target with stings too. It’s one thing if not everybody knew traffickers were coming and it was secret, but since super bowl is known to be the time for it and santa clara hosts the super bowl, that will obviously be a city where much of it is going on around there. So, if taking the effort, they should be able to catch the guy’s. Do stings with cops undercover acting like “customers” too, like they do for prostitution stings.

    • We aren’t sure how much the Super Bowl swells the numbers of sex traffickers and their victims. It’s believed that at least some traffickers move into the city to take advantage of men who are traveling alone. Largely the issue is talked about, and attached to the Super Bowl, because it brings attention to the issue, regardless of how many extra sex traffickers come in.

      We want to draw attention to the issue so that ordinary people and businesses – especially those involved in travel and hospitality – can identify potential victims and seek help for them.

  3. This is so sad a disgusting. First, who do you even get the most mad at? The parents who are basically pushing these kids into the arms of pimps. Do we point the finger at the pimps for assaulting, traumatizing, and exploiting these kids. Do we get mad at the people paying for the sexual acts of these kids? Do we point the fingers at officers and politicians for not getting a better handle on such a hideous crime? Or do we blame ourselves as a whole for not making this issue more of a priority and eliminating it. I feel problems like prostitution will never completely go away but we have to do something more to protect these kids. As adults we are supposed to be their safe harbor and protect them from these crimes. It is so sad to read articles like this and knowing what is happening to so many children every single day.

  4. I really appreciate this information, because I’ve always wondered about how people can help those who are forced into sex trafficking. I wish that there could be a way to keep this from happening at all, but I am aware that won’t be happening anytime soon. Especially because there are so many “customers” who feed into the business. When I used to walk home from work where I lived about a year ago I used to see quite a few women who were obviously prostitutes. And it used to make me sad because I wish that there could have been something that I could have done to help in some way. I know that they are people who have dreams and hopes about their future, and it always pained me when people regarded them as less than people because of what they do. Some people don’t seem to understand that a lot of these women didn’t have any choice.

    I’m just wondering, what prevents cops from arresting the pimp that does this to these women? I’m assuming that they transport their victims to the area that the super bowl is being hosted. How do they do all this without getting caught?

    • I don’t know all the ins and outs of it. I suspect that pimps aren’t hanging out right at the Super Bowl but more around the nearby hotels. And the police have training, but it’s helpful for ordinary people and businesses that specialize in travel and tourism to know what signs to look for. I’m glad you found the information helpful.

  5. Disgusting but true. Even in our country sex trafficking is at very higher rate. Good that you contributed a small help through your post by giving the details.

  6. Quite the time of the superbowl huh? Not only is it a year for sex trafficking as you said, but what many other have heard and know about and it just came back to mind since you brought up sex trafficking. It’s in relation because of “abuse” toward women. Superbowl sunday for some reason has the most incidents of Domestic abuse I believe in America on that day. Sad and messed up too.

  7. This article is really helpful because I have always wondered how people are fighting this, and how I could also be a part of the solution. Sex trafficking is a huge issue in Africa. Girls are kidnapped from families by Men who tell them that they can help them get to Europe or the US and the girls believe them because they usually come from poor families so they feel obligated to go and are fed these lies about finding good jobs with these men. Which turns out to be that their bodies are sold to the highest bidder or they are used as prostitutes. These girls are held hostage, no money on hand, passport withheld from them. I bet that when most people see these young girls on the streets, they think that they CHOSE this life in reality when alot of them did not.

  8. In all honesty, I never really understood why the Super Bowl was a huge time for sex trafficking . It’s interesting to see that when young girls, and women feel like they’re in a rut they turn to older guys who look like they actually love and care for them, and like the post said, a “father figure”. When in reality they are only getting themselves into something even worse!
    It’s good to know where you can call if you see anything suspicious. I think it would be even more helpful if we knew what other things we should look for that may seem off.

    • Well, it’s not so much that the girls are in a rut as that things are going really badly in their lives. They are trying to escape a bad situation but go from the frying pan into the fire.

  9. Mehtab Bhinder

    It’s quite odd to me that some can give others the power to determine what love is for them. For example, when saying that the girl in the article received the love she finally wanted from a significantly older man, but he ended up abusing her and hurting her, how could she view that as love or validation? If anything, I would think that growing up with an abusive mother would make her more alert of aware of the harm others are capable of inflicting upon her. But then again, these men put up a false pretense of ensuring girls that they can give them the love and affection they need. Human trafficking is a disgusting practice and I think it is one of the most harmful things you can do to a male or female because you violate them to such extremes emotionally and physically.

    • The thing is that this girl has no experience with actual love, And Yet she is desperate for it. That combination is common among girls who end up in prostitution. Pretty sad that some people take advantage of it in such a horrible ways.

  10. I knew sex trafficking was traumatic but I would have never guessed the PTSD rates are close to or as bad as PTSD rates in veterans. Its honestly sickening that this is so prominent in our society. Although the topic is very raw, I cannot express how important this post is. Not only is there information describing how disgusting and torturous sex trafficking is, but half of the article is about how to help. We see multitudes of posters, flyers, and powerpoints on how evil sex trafficking is but rarely do we see something that say what we, as individuals can do to help these people escape. Its stories like these than make women fear men. Not to say that women are the only victims of sex trafficking, or that all men are abusers, but they are the most targeted. Most stories of women who are either trapped in sex rings or in abusive relationships either start with kidnapping or how they thought their future abuser was so nice at first. Its terrifying. You never know if a date will turn into a healthy relationship or leave you with crippling PTSD.

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