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Sexploitation

The Sexploitation podcast decodes sexual harms and provides you with active solutions. We address the full spectrum of sexual exploitation, from sex trafficking to sexual violence, to rape culture, to pornography, and more. And better yet, we give you the tools to make a difference!
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Oct 21, 2016
Ep. 6 What the hype and the research have to say about trafficking at the Super Bowl.
 
Claim # 1: "The Super Bowl is the largest sex trafficking event in the world."
 
Claim # 2: "Sex trafficking at the Super Bowl is way overdramatized; it's not a big problem."
 
Over the last few years, both of these claims have been perpetuated by different media sources. But what's the truth?
 
To begin it’s important to acknowledge that in the past some well-intentioned individuals and groups have overstated the scope of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. Their exaggerated statements were picked up and widely circulated in the media. Unfortunately, the hype gave skeptics reason to question whether or not sex trafficking happens during the Super Bowl.

But while some have magnified the problem, others are also distorting the issue to opposite effect by claiming there is no sex trafficking in connection with the Super Bowl. Sources of this disinformation are groups like the Sex Workers and Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project (ESPLERP), a group which is currently engaged in legal action against the state of California, alleging that the state’s prostitution law violates the constitutional rights of those in the sex industry, and which is supporting an effort unfolding in New Hampshire to fully decriminalize prostitution in that state.

Groups such as ESPLERP have a vested interest in promulgating the myth that there is no sex trafficking at the Super Bowl, since sex industry advocates and profiteers have a lot at stake when it comes to anything that might bring the attention of law enforcement to their activities.

 

Statistics from the FBI’s law enforcement efforts are illuminating. Consider that in Phoenix last year 360 sex buyers and 68 traffickers were arrested and 30 juvenile victims were recovered.  In 2014, 45 arrests were made in connection with the New Jersey Super Bowl, with 16 juveniles recovered.  In 2013 at the New Orleans Super Bowl, 85 arrests made and five victims recovered.

Confounding the matter is a study from the Arizona School of Social Work entitled “Exploring Sex Trafficking and Prostitution during the Super Bowl 2014."

This study states: "“The conclusion of the study is that the Super Bowl, or any large event which provides a significant concentration of people in a relatively confined urban area, becomes a desirable location for a trafficker to bring their victims for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.”

So, does football, or the NFL, the Super Bowl, cause sex trafficking? No. But is the influx of demand (i.e. potential male sex buyers) associated with the Super Bowl correlated with sex trafficking the Super Bowl and similar events? That answer is, sadly, a resounding yes.

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