(The following excerpt from Sex-Trafficking In The United States: A Silent Epidemic by Aaron Kaufman recently appeared on elitedaily.com. To view this post in its entirety click on the link below.)
On Wednesday, we penned an article detailing the epidemic of human-trafficking at the Super Bowl and other major sporting events.
The article aimed to draw attention to the practice of sex-trafficking and modern slavery in the United States, highlighting its startling prevalence while discussing the steps government officials are taking to combat the problem.
In the days following the article’s publication, we received numerous requests to dive deeper into the issue, further examining the deplorable practice, the victims it leaves in its wake and what is being done to eradicate it.
In the Super Bowl piece, we cited a statistic calculated by the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children that estimates that approximately 10,000 women were brought to Miami during the 2010 Super Bowl.
This week, that figure was cited by numerous news outlets reporting on steps that officials in New York, the federal government, transportation agencies and advocacy groups are taking to prevent this year’s Super Bowl from experiencing a similar surge in sex-trafficking around the event.
As part of that campaign, those officials hope to identify and rescue countless victims held captive by the illegal industry.
On Thursday, police announced that the arrests of 18 operatives in a high-end escort service that planned to take advantage of Sunday’s influx of Super Bowl attendees by delivering cocaine and prostitutes together in what they termed “party packs.”
The year-long undercover investigation found that the ring allegedly laundered money earned from the escort service through numerous front businesses, saying that it primarily targeted wealthy customers visiting New York while attending large events, earning an estimated $3 million dollars last year alone.
While the effort in New York is already producing results, a campaign that is focused on the trafficking of sex workers to a single event can only have a minimal effect in the larger fight to eradicate the black-market business.
A black-market business that grosses $9.5 billion annually in the United States and whose survival is predicated on the exploitation and subjugation of defenseless women, of whom an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 thousand are underage.
While the editorial team at Elite Daily chose to emphasize the need to expand upon the ongoing efforts to fight the scourge of sex-trafficking nationwide, other outlets and individuals opted to instead focus on whether or not the statistics that portend an incursion of trafficked women to the Super Bowl are exaggerated.
We take the view that be it 10 or 10,000, one victim suffering is one victim too many.
For it is not the prevalence of the practice that is most disturbing, but rather the individual stories of suffering that it yields.
Like the story of Sarah, a 17-year-old girl from Ohio who fled from home on numerous occasions to escape her alcoholic parents. One day, when Sarah left her home after a fight with her mother, she was stopped by a 30-year-old man who told her she was pretty and who asked why she looked so upset.
Sarah told the stranger about the fight and he asked if he could escort her down the street to get her nails done as a way to cheer her up.
Soon, the two began dating and Sarah moved in with him. But after a month of living with her new boyfriend, he informed her that he could no longer afford the rent. He asked Sarah to begin soliciting sex so that he could keep the apartment.
Desperate to avoid having to move back in with her parents, Sarah reluctantly complied with the request.
And she continued to comply until one night when she was raped by a stranger who had solicited her for sex.
Numbers aside, only good can come from the awareness generated by stories documenting the practice of sex-trafficking at the Super Bowl. It’s an issue that warrants more attention that it traditionally receives.
If you notice any suspicious activity that might be linked to sex-trafficking, please contact the National Human-Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.