If you were in Texas on Sunday, or anywhere in the United States for that matter, you most likely had your behind planted on a stool, couch or lounge chair watching the Super Bowl.
I won’t lie, I was there. I ate the mini hot dogs and probably consumed more root beer float than humanly possible.
We screamed, we shouted and we cried while watching the Patriots win (still bitter).
But for some, the Super Bowl isn’t just about a pigskin, rivalries and food. As the media and officials have often proclaimed since 2010, the Super Bowl is a prime sex trafficking event. Statistics of sex trafficking blow up at the same rate of food consumption stats, reports and Twitter feeds flood with claims of huge increases of prostitutes being brought to the host city of the Superbowl.
In fact, if you type in “Superbowl and sex trafficking” into the search bar, I guarantee at least six recent stories on sextrafficking arrests in correlation with the sport event will surface.
However, looking further into the issue, some organizations against sex trafficking oppose the media exposure, saying it comes with a false pretense: large sports events are directly correlated to an increase in sex trafficking.
In Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women’s article, What’s the Cost of a Rumor?, the group deconstructs the myth. The writer claims the myth is not statistically feasible, that such short-term events would not be profitable enough for traffickers and paid sexual services wouldn’t be accessible to most sports spectators.
They claim the myth is a ruse to gather media attention, to quickly fundraise, to give the appearance that things are being done to oppose sex trafficking on a regular basis, and to promote anti-immigration and prostitution agendas.
The widespread acceptance of the myth has created a misrepresentation of people and issues, displaced marginalized groups in an effort to correct the situation and even spurred attempts to restrict women’s traveling plans, they said.
While the Super Bowl may not have a significant effect on sex trafficking numbers, though, it did the trick of getting media’s attention. And so, it caught our attention, for the fifth year in a row.
Now, what are we going to do about it? We can read Huffington Post’s reports on a national sex trafficking operation making about 600 arrests, or Fox News’s account of a previously sex-trafficked woman and her experience in business during the Superbowl, or we can read beyond the first two articles popping up on our Twitter feed and really investigate the issue.
People are posted and sold online every day. Sex trafficking is not exclusive to large sporting events, and so our initiative to fight it should not be exclusive to the weeks leading to and following the Super Bowl.