Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl

The following post was written by current volunteer Margot Morris.  Margot serves with Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, specifically to raise awareness of human trafficking related to the Super Bowl.  January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness day.

The hype is here in New Jersey for the Super Bowl. I hear commercials for ticket-raffles and pre-game parties on the radio. I see huge Super Bowl XLVIII ads sprawl across stairwells coming out of the train station, courtesy of Pepsi. On the morning news, guest speakers are gushing about the huge cruise ship that Budweiser is bringing into port. Everyone is talking about it – everyone is excited.

I’m dreading it. Not because I hate the Event or the NFL. I couldn’t disparage football—I’m a Notre Dame fan. But, I dread it because I know what goes on in the underbelly. Huge sporting events, the SB being the largest here in the U.S., draw in crowds of thousands to their host cities. More than 400,000 fans are expected to descend upon the Tri-State area. With these thousands of fans, there is in an increase in human trafficking, specifically sex-trafficking.

Under Federal law, sex trafficking is defined as commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion or commercial sex acts in which the individual induced to perform commercial sex has not attained 18 years of age. Any child in the sex industry is a victim of sex trafficking. Period. This may shock you, but the average age of entry into the sex-trade is 12 to 14 years old. In New Jersey it’s 9. That’s an average – there are children as young as 5 brought into this horrendous crime.

People like to share knowing looks when you bring up “prostitution”, but the reality is that this is not just ‘business as usual’ – this is sex trafficking. Modern day slavery. Women , men, girls, and boys are being exploited for the profit of others.

There is hope, and a positive to this post. Hundreds of groups are collaborating in NJ, and in NY, to end human trafficking in our area – and the world. My work with the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment has brought me into the fold of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking. This Coalition is a passionate, driven, and energetic group of people.
Sr. Pat, Michelle Guelbart, and myself. Michelle is from ECPAT and she was integral in our hotel outreach campaign, she also gave the main presentation in our training of volunteers

Human trafficking awareness training done at Rutgers Law, Newark, for hotel management.

I’ve had the privilege to coordinate a hotel outreach campaign these past months in the Tri-State area. More than 400 volunteers have reached out to over 1,200 hotels from CT, down to PA. Volunteers have been raising awareness of the issue of human trafficking with hotels and encouraging them to post resources in their staff areas and, ultimately, have staff trained on how to recognize and report signs of trafficking.

You can become involved too, across the country! Visit OR and become involved with our #HTchallenge campaign. Post facts about human trafficking on Twitter or Facebook to spread awareness of this horrible crime. Finally, during the Super Bowl, turn off your T.V. set for 10 minutes and discuss this issue with those around you.

“I expose slavery in this country, because to expose it is to kill it.” – Frederick Douglass

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