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Human Trafficking at the Super Bowl

One of the most loved and celebrated American sporting traditions is the Super Bowl. The competition, rivalry, parties, chili, commercials and halftime show bring the nation together, and we all have plenty to talk about for the next week. But for tens of thousands of underage girls, the Super Bowl is a nightmare.

“The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a trafficking prevention meeting last January, before Dallas hosted the big game.  Each year, thousands of girls, most of them underage, are trafficked to the Super Bowl.  Mobile brothels are set up in cabs, and hotel rooms across the city are occupied by girls who are purchased and used for “pleasure.”

The common misconception in America is that human trafficking exists outside the U.S., in countries less fortunate than ours and that the prostitutes who walk our city streets have chosen this lifestyle because they’re desperate for cash. This is just not true in most cases. The Department of Justice reports that up to 300,000 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 are lured and ensnared in the U.S. sex industry each year.

There has, however, been a victory in law-making this time around.  FoxNews ran an article two days ago reporting that Indiana’s governor, republican Mitch Daniels signed new legislation that closes the loopholes in state prostitution laws and makes it easier to prosecute the real criminals – those who sell children into slavery and those who purchase them.  Daniels met with former republican U.S. congresswoman turned non-profit founder, Linda Smith who counseled him on the importance of tightening up the state’s laws and discouraging pimps and “johns.”  The legislation was fast tracked and signed into action in time for Super Bowl weekend.

Many of the prostitutes in this country are underage runaways who are targeted and kidnapped by traffickers (pimps) who then intimidate and belittle them through regular beatings and forced drug addiction. This is happening on our streets! The facts are sobering: in certain parts of our country, some 90 percent of runaways and children whose parents force them to leave home fall into the trade and are often beaten, drugged, raped or imprisoned to force compliance.

We need to end this tragedy.  Contact your local and state representatives today to demand tighter trafficking and prostitution laws.  As Baltimore and the I95 corridor are part of the largest trafficking operations in the country, let’s make sure the loopholes are closed here in Maryland, that children are protected, and that those who buy and sell humans are put behind bars.

by:  Betsy Merena

 

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