Sexual Exploitation and the Super Bowl

Sexual Exploitation and the Super Bowl

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This weekend is the Super Bowl, and with it comes the parties, the food, commercials and of course, the big game. I used to think football was one of our harmless American pastimes. Of course, there are plenty of things we can all find fault with — the gazillion dollars we spend on “useless” information and entertainment, the way we sacrifice our time for sports, and we could go on.   

But there is a very dark side to the sporting world: the world of sex trafficking and slavery. Did you know that there were thousands of women and girls trafficked into South Africa for the last World Cup in 2010?

Sex trafficking turns people into commodities — sexual objects to be bought, sold, used and discarded.  Yet it’s easy to think of trafficking as a problem that happens “out there” — in other countries, but not here in America. The reality is that this horrible evil is alive and well in the United States. Some experts believe that at any given moment, approximately 100,000 to 300,000 American youth are at risk for being sexually exploited.

And the biggest event of the year for America’s favorite pastime is one of the places where we find the most human trafficking. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, says that it’s all about supply and demand. And with the Super Bowl each year, comes a high demand for this kind of atrocity.

Anti-trafficking experts have been working hard to reduce the number of sex trafficking victims that will find themselves on the streets during this year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis. In fact, Indiana’s governor signed a bill into law that aims to reduce the number of victims bought and sold into sex slavery by providing tougher penalties and an easier way to prosecute sex traffickers.

But as long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. The question is, how are we in the Christian community helping to stop the demand of this horrible industry? If you want to educate yourself more on this topic and find tips on how to get involved in ending this modern-day slavery, check out Focus on the Family's

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  • Comment by  Tami:

    So long as you're not collecting beads and otherwise acting a hot mess, is Fat Tuesday all that awful? (Just wondering) I assume it has some sort of original meaning that's not all drunkenness and costumes. I will accept being wrong. :) Or maybe it's the name "Fat." Say "Shrove Tuesday" and it sounds a lot more mystifyingly interesting.

    I just learned about semla (google it, I dare you) and dang, those look good. I need to hunt those puppies down.

  • Comment by  Timi:

    From the Webzine e-mail sent today, i have the song "It's a Small World" in my head, & when i first read the title of this, i did have the Michael Jackson song in my head. Just being honest; but now it's out. Thanks!

  • Comment by  Jennette:

    I enjoyed hearing Amy Hanson (my daughter) and your other guests talk about their missionary experiance. The work of missions is changing in todays world. It is wonderful to know that the Lord will continue to use people to share the good news of Christ the Savior throughout the world until He returns.

  • Comment by  Philip:

    What a great episode! I can relate to everything Jenn said about the difficulty in compartmentalizing different cultures.

    When I returned to Indonesia (my home country) last summer, I had the opportunity to teach at my old church's vacation bible school. It's always hot there, so I decided to wear shorts on my first day. Bad idea. After spending five years in the States, I'd forgotten that NO adult wears shorts to church unless he's doing heavy work. I was the only teacher/instructor who had shorts on. Oh the embarrassment!

    I had to somehow give an explanation for the shorts. "In my church's summer VBS in Philadelphia, even my pastor and his wife wore shorts to church!"

  • Comment by  Dannie:

    I will be celebrating Black History Month and Valentine's day...

    My family has always celebrated Valentine's day as a day for all kinds of love so I always get flowers from my dad, and my parents give each other a gift and sometimes I get something from my mom.  This year I have a special someone, but I'm also taking out my mom for breakfast the day before (we both have it off work) and I still hope for flowers from my dad :)

    I ordered the book "Shades of Black" for my daughter....I think she will have fun looking at the pictures in it.  

  • Comment by  Tracy:

    Yeah for chats with MKs! Sometimes I think we're a forgotten group. I identified with so much from the conversation!! :)

  • Comment by  CourtneyP:

    I HEART Sara Groves :)

  • Comment by  Ashleytheoriginalflavor:

    This is huge. Also, don't discount the ability of LOCAL ministries to reach to this effort. A lot of times we can think that Sex Trafficking is something that happens in India or the Philliphines, but it does happen here.

    A ministry I sometimes partner with helps meet this need in my local area by ministering to strippers. Most are unskilled women from very very low income appalacian homes -- and most have no real place to call their own. The stories are terrible and depressing -- especially when many people don't realize that people who "chose that life" often feel like they have no choice at all -- and often began being exploited as children.

    While I also laud efforts to be globally aware, this is also one of the many areas where we can look locally to STOP the exploitation of unskilled women.

  • Comment by  EM:

    As an adult MK I appreciated this article, but I didn't agree with some of the comments that they made about MK's today. Times change and it we can't judge the way MK's live now vs how we grew up. Some comments like how the Brazilians are so much better at knowing themselves and how shallow Americans are. I don't think that's the case, but it's an idea that most MK's incorrently have. Some kids are like that, but I've been so surprised at the maturity of American kids. Also, just because we didn't have the opportunity to come to the US for things like braces, doesn't mean we have to still expect families to just accept local healthcare. It's true that most of the time healthcare IS better in the US and you CAN value the culture you are in with still understanding that if there is the opportunity to get things done well they will. It's not thinking it's not good enough, but being wise with what is now available. It's not sad, it's just different now. I don't think some of the comments are going to be well received.

  • Comment by  Amber:

    Sexual exploitation & trafficking is a problem.  Yes, I agree.  

    What I disagree with is throwing "Super Bowl" in the title just to make it relevant, and stating there's a problem with "the way we sacrifice our time for sports."

    As someone who works in the sporting industry, sports are not only my livelihood but also my passion.  So it hurts to see sexual exploitation tied to the Super Bowl and WorldCup.  Yes there probably is a correlation, but that doesn't imply causation.  

    There will also probably be a higher demand for food in restaurants and grocery stores as well as merchandise in shops.  This is not due to sports, but rather a large influx of people to view a sporting event, as is also the case for higher demand for sexual exploitation, imho.  Thanks.

  • Comment by  Kellie:

    I love Sara Groves!!

  • Comment by  Nancy:

    Amber, I agree -- it's totally about the large influx of people.  Each time a city hosts the Olympics, the same thing happens.  Ashley, a shout out to the ministry in your area!  I serve here in the Midwest in a similar ministry that seeks to be the face of Christ in our local strip clubs.  

    I am heartened by the efforts to stop trafficking in Indianapolis, and if you'd like to see how to eliminate trafficking look at what Sweden has done.  They've criminalized only the purchasing of sex, and arrest only the customers.  The women are treated as victims and offered services to deal with the nightly violence they've been enduring.  (Which makes sense, since the average age a girl begins working as/is forced to be a prostitute is 13.)  Traffickers do not do business there, because it's simply not profitable enough anymore.  For more information, there's a great documentary called "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls."

  • Comment by  CraigM:

    Yeah, the sports thing is a total non sequitur.  

  • Comment by  Heather:

    Thanks for posting this. I've been encouraged to see the word getting out about the reality of the sex slave trade via various articles and blog posts. I live in Indianapolis and while the Superbowl is a great thing for our city, I'm heartbroken to know these atrocities are occurring in large proportions during this event all over town. While everyone is so caught up in the hoopla and excitement of the Superbowl it's good to be reminded that there are negative consequences for many surrounding this event as well. Through prayer, awareness and God's leading hopefully this Superbowl can be remembered as one where our city did all that they could to stop these types of crimes.

  • Comment by  Tami:

    Though it may be sad to recognize, it's not a total non sequitur, or a case of correlation not proving causation, or a simple case of just throwing in the name of the event for "relevance," if there is an actual connection between the influx of people -- because of the sporting event -- and a spike in trafficking activity.

    I don't think anyone is saying "it's sports enthusiasts causing an upswing in trafficking" or "it's the fault of the event itself." But the sporting *event* does, generally, bring in an influx of men... which would be a flag to *traffickers* that "men who may be away from wives/girlfriends = customers" and "customers = money."

    A lot of traffickers operate in touristy areas of cities. Is that the fault of all the vacationers who enjoy that town? Certainly not. But the traffickers are taking advantage of a situation (people on business/vacation) that they feel will turn a profit.

    Better to be aware of this behavior than not.

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