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Myths That Won’t Die: Sex Trafficking And The Super Bowl

While no one disputes the idea that any sex trafficking is too much sex trafficking, and that people caught in that evil trade are usually there unwillingly, there is ample reason to dispute what has become an annual refrain: that the Super Bowl attracts the highest level of sex trafficking.

Like the lie that domestic violence is highest on Super Bowl Sunday, this claim seems targeted at sports-loving men. Those animals!

Some attribute the genesis of this lie to then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (now a candidate for Texas Governor) who, in 2011, said that the Super Bowl is “commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” However, others have noted these stories go back at least 2 years earlier.

But there simply isn’t any evidence this is actually the case.

From The Gospel Coalition: FactChecker: Super Bowl Sex Trafficking and Other Myths

Human trafficking is one of the greatest evils of our age. But contrary to the claim of Abbott — and journalists who repeat the claim every year — there is no evidence that sex trafficking increases during the Super Bowl.

According to the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, police departments in cities hosting the Super Bowl deny that sex trafficking increases around the game:

2008: Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thompson: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes. They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”

2009: Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis: “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”

2010: Miami police said they arrested 14 for prostitution. Those figures are not uncommon for large cities during a seven-day period, experts said.

2011: Public information officer Sherri Jeffrey with the Dallas Police Department: There were “zero arrests for trafficking in the time frame surrounding the Super Bowl.”

Sports on Earth: The Sex Trafficking Super Bowl Myth

The persistence of the Super Bowl sex-trafficking myth can be credited to the theatrical quality of its anecdotes. McCain’s activism originated with an experience she had while shopping in Calcutta. She heard noises under the shop floor and looked down. “I could see all these little eyes looking up at me, and I realized it was probably 30 little girls, looking up through the floorboards at me,” she said. “I realized at that time that it was very serious, and these girls were either enslaved or being trafficked, but the kicker was [that] I walked out of that shop, and I never did anything.” Afterwards, McCain approached Arizona governor Jan Brewer to propose taking action on trafficking, and the state’s Task Force on Human Trafficking was created.

The Wire: The Super Bowl Sex-Trafficking Story That Just Won’t Die

In 2012, The Houston Press’s Peter Kotz thoroughly tore apart that story, explaining that law enforcement officials in the cities where past Super Bowls occurred never actually saw increases in prostitution busts or the number of trafficked prostitutes, even despite increased efforts to catch johns, pimps, and traffickers. “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same,” a Tampa police spokeswoman said in 2009, and a police spokesperson in Phoenix said in 2008 that there was nothing out of the ordinary: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes,” and not foreign women “imported” for the event.

National Post: Sex and the Super Bowl: Is the big game really a magnet for prostitution and human trafficking?

“This myth trivializes trafficking … and wastes needed resources that could be used to actually address trafficking,” said Julie Ham, author of a 2011 study on human trafficking and major sporting events for the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.

“This is part of a larger moral panic about trafficking, which reduces all trafficking to sex. All trafficking is not about sex,” said Pardis Mahdavi, professor in anthropology at Pomona College, Cal., whose research focuses on human trafficking.

3 thoughts on “Myths That Won’t Die: Sex Trafficking And The Super Bowl”

  1. You miss the point that this whole deal about “the epidemic human trafficking” is a giant hoax made up by NGOs to provide lucrative employment for themselves by creating a mythological hydra that can only be fought by taxpayers and donators forking over large sums of money to these oddballs whose worldview is as deluded as Marshall Applebee and his “UFO Cult.” Relax, millions of people ARE NOT BEING ENSLAVED nor could anyone pull this off in the modern world, just another hoax by weirdos who have found a more lucrative endeavor than Bigfoot.

    1. You may have a point there Sebastian about why organizations promote these myths. Many unethical and power-mad people have found social issues an easy way to gain power and money.

      However, I’m not sure I agree with your claim that human trafficking is not a problem at all. Even the news just this week about Boko Haram kidnapping 200 girls and threatening to sell them into slavery seems to indicate it really does happen, and probably in larger numbers than some assume (but doubtless in smaller numbers than others claim).

      1. It’s all a buzzword some memo from the ministry of propaganda told them to use in every single story about prostitution. Go back and watch how differently things were covered about prostitution in the 80s versus today. The Big Networks would have a story about prostitution outside the US military bases in the Philippines and truthfully report that the girls all willingly came there with hopes of getting an American to fall in love with them and take them back to the States. Nowadays they would be misrepresented as being the victims of “trafficking.” Back then the tool used by prudes to shut down prostitution was aids, when it became apparent that fears of a heterosexual aids epidemic were vastly overblown and the disease confined to men who have sex with men and women who have sex with men who have sex with men, they shifted their excuse to “human trafficking.”

        I know as a matter of fact that in Thailand the typical woman in the red light district is 25 years old, an unwed mother who was very promiscuous back in the village, and decided to come to the tourist districts to make easy money. The real victims are foolish, lonely tourists who fall in love with them and end up wiring them money when they return home. The missionary and feminist NGOs lie through their teeth that the scene is “child sex slaves,” the truth doesn’t get government grants and donations. When western pedophiles get busted there, their victims are not trafficked prostitutes, but local children they groomed in the exact same way as they do in the west.

        I also knew a number of Korean women in their late 40s who work at massage parlors. The media loves to run “human trafficking” stories every time a parlor gets busted, but nothing ever comes from it because that’s not the truth of the situation. One chick who took me out to the local bars after her place closed for the evening was a whore in Korea, married a soldier whom she dumped a year after getting to the states and got together with her cousin who also lived in the US and opened up a series of parlors in various states until they outlived their welcome and headed to the next state to pull the same trick. She had a whole circle of friends living outside the Georgia military base who were also Korean hookers with GI husbands who would come to her parlor for a month and go back to Georgia with a nice sum of cash. All were in their 40s and 50s too, not exactly the young children being snatched off the streets by “Bloefeld’s SPECTRE” that the squares putting out news releases would have you imagine.

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