You Can Help Stop Super Bowl Sex Trafficking
By Courtney Cooper and Wesley Russell
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
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.
Posted on January 29, 2016, in feminism, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged BAATC, Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, feminism, sex trafficking, sex trafficking hotline, sexism, Super Bowl 50, women. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.