As the Super Bowl quickly approaches, America is busy reppin’ their respective teams, placing bets on who will win, planning Super Bowl watch parties, and flocking to Texas for the game. However, die-hard football fans are not the only ones heading to Texas in mass amounts, thousands of people, including children as young as 10, will be forcibly transported to the Super Bowl for sex trafficking’s busiest weekend of the year. Jezebel reports that the Florida Commission against Human Trafficking estimated that “tens of thousands of women and minors were trafficked into the Miami area during the Super Bowl last year.” The expected increase in occurrences of human trafficking has both law enforcement and advocates gearing up to prevent and crack down on trafficking.
The Polaris Project and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights have released this ad, campaigning for the closing of the “Adult Section” of the Village Voice Media’s backpage.com which has been used by some for child sex trafficking.
Traffic 911 has released a series of videos called “I’m not buying It” which feature a variety of people including trafficking survivors, hip hop artists, and football players talking about the sexual trafficking of children. The videos can be found here.
I'll admit that I’m not necessarily a fan of all of the content of the videos, especially the statement in one video which says “real men don’t buy sex.” I think it’s problematic to infuse anti-trafficking awareness with ideals and notions of “traditional” masculinity and “real” men; also it comes across as strictly anti-sex work. Although being anti-sex work is not necessarily bad, I think we need to remember that voluntary sex work, (if truly voluntary), is a completely different thing from underage children being sold for sex, and as such needs to be treated as adifferent issue. I do think that the ads are genuine in intent and I think it’s great that they will be shown during the Super Bowl. The videos will reach a huge number of people and are sending a message that isn’t often heard in mainstream society, I hope that the videos can serve as a conversation starter about human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a serious problem which is going to require tons of anti-trafficking awareness and support in order to stop or decrease, kudos to these groups to use one of the biggest events in United States to be pro-active about stopping human trafficking.