By: In the Capital
Amid all the news stories about how to throw the best Super Bowl party, or bar reviews on beer specials, there is one Super Bowl story that seems to avoid much media attention. The biggest sporting event of the year does more than just inspire the most fair-weathered football fans to don a jersey. It is also the biggest night of the year for prostitution and sex trafficking in America.
With the February 2nd Super Bowl game slated to be held at MetLife Stadium, New Jersey politicians and law enforcement officials have been ramping up their efforts to combat sex trafficking in the region.
“New Jersey has a huge trafficking problem,” said Republican Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, who is co-chairman of the House anti-human trafficking caucus. “One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks.”
New Jersey officials have put together a task forceof leaders from all walks of life, to be trained in the signs of sex trafficking. Police officers, hospitality workers, high school students, airport employees and truck drivers are all being taught on how to identify at-risk individuals, or young women or men who appear to be held against their will. Religious institutions throughout the state are handing out fliers to their congregations to teach average citizens how to identify these signs as well.
The New York City Police Department has also been on the look out for the uptick in sex trafficking surrounding the Super Bowl. Over the past two weeks the NYPD has made over 200 arrestsrelated to prostitution and sex trafficking through conducting both street busts and high-end undercover stings.
In typical fashion, Capitol Hill is making a late appearance on this important policy issue. Representative Chris Smith is holding a hearingon Monday, the day after the Super Bowl, to discuss what can be done politically to curb sex trafficking during these major sporting events.
Republican Representative Ted Poe of Texas has also spoken out on the House floor about sex trafficking, calling the Super Bowl, "America's traveling human trafficking magnet."
"Last year, while the two teams battled it out on the field, a young trafficked girl prayed for her life while sold for sex," Poe said. "These are women and children who have been taken as sex slaves, becoming sought-after entertainment on Super Bowl weekend."