//
you're reading...
Uncategorized

Anti-Sex Trafficking Efforts During Super Bowl XLVI

We began our research on human trafficking at the crossroads of America, in Indiana. While Indianapolis prepared for Super Bowl XLVI, we were able to meet with a few organizations and institutions working to combat human trafficking in the state.

Frequently, prior to large sporting events such as the Super Bowl, the media, organizations and government offices discuss how sex trafficking is likely to increase in their vicinity. However, a handful of journalists and some anti-human trafficking advocates criticize these articles, stating that large sporting events in fact “do not cause increases in trafficking for prostitution” (The Cost of a Rumor).

Organizations such as the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH) and the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA) have used this exposure as an opportunity to bring awareness to a persistent issue, rather than repeating the often inflated and unreliable numbers of victims of sex trafficking ‘expected’ to be brought into the area at the time of large sporting events. The individuals we met with at IPATH and INCASA are aware that sporting events may not necessarily result in a perceptible increase of sex trafficking victims. However, the speculation surrounding these events can be used to educate the populace about a problem that is pervasive year-round in their region and around the country.

A coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in Indiana took the opportunity provided by the Super Bowl to train over 2,000 people in the fields of law enforcement, medical care, education and social work. These individuals were taught the signs they should look for and what questions they should ask to identify human trafficking. This is training that will not be lost after the Super Bowl, but will allow social workers and law enforcement to identify victims in the future as well.

Cab drivers throughout the metropolitan area were also trained to recognize warning signs of a sex trafficking victim – there are cases when cab drivers would not want to get involved in situations of identifying traffickers, or trafficking victims to law enforcement, so they are provided with the Polaris Project- National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline number, which allows them to provide tips to the hotline while remaining anonymous.

In Indiana, we saw organizations making an effort to work together to combat an issue through sharing their most effective strategies: Traffick911, an organization which ran an anti-trafficking campaign during the Dallas Super Bowl, spoke with IPATH about all efforts in Dallas which they saw to be successful, or unsuccessful; INCASA and IPATH made additional efforts to hand out missing children pamphlets and statistics on trafficked minors in sex work to bars surrounding the Lucas Oil Stadium and throughout Indianapolis; Theresa Flores, a survivor of sex trafficking, brought Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP) to Indianapolis. SOAP creates bars of soap with the hotline number printed on them, which are then passed around to hotels and motels for victims to find while they wash up in the bathrooms.

The anti-trafficking task force in Indiana, IPATH, helped to pass Indiana’s first anti-human trafficking law in 2006. Prior to the Super Bowl, there was increased urgency placed on tightening up these laws in Indiana,  in order to make it easier to prosecute traffickers, particularly in cases with minors. Governor Mitch Daniels signed Senate Bill 4 on Monday, January 30th just in time for the big event. The Senate Bill can be read hereThe new Senate Bill provides an improved definition of human trafficking to also include ‘sexual conduct’; removes the requirement of minors to prove force, or threat of force (minors defined in Indiana as under 16); and further defines a trafficker as anyone who sells or transfers custody of a minor – including parents and guardians. These changes were not solely for Super Bowl cases, but it was seen by many in government and various NGOs as an opportune time to rush a bill through Senate.

While no one can measure the success of all of these efforts, there is no question that bringing awareness to the issue is necessary. During the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVI, a 19 year old woman from Las Vegas and a 21 year old woman from Cleveland were rescued from their traffickers in Indianapolis. Both women were forced, or coerced into sex work at the age of 16.

Even with examples of success, like these cases, some journalists are claiming that the haste to prepare for trafficking in the sex trade during the Super Bowl games was ignited by the blind apprehension of politicians –  that they are “riding the momentum of a hoax that’s reignited before every major sporting event”(The Super Bowl Prostitution Hoax). This argument is understandable, especially because numbers of sex workers expected to infiltrate a city for large sporting events has been quoted at anything between 10,000 to 100,000. As Pete Kotz notes in his article, “Alarming figures are pulled from the mist of imagination, where extra zeros apparently come free with every purchase. Anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 hookers will be coming to town!” Yes, these numbers seem to be highly inflated; and from our findings, most sporting events have no statistical backing to say that the number of sex trafficking victims has ever greatly increased around these events compared to other times of the year. However, due to the underground nature of the trade, there is no way to know how many victims of trafficking are in Indiana, but as Abigail Kuzma stated, “the essence of justice in America is to rescue people who are being abused like this”. Whether the number is one, one-hundred, or one-thousand, the issue must be addressed.

Ms. Kuzma, the Co-chair of IPATH and the Director of Consumer Protection for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, noted that since 2005 there had been around 50 trafficking cases in Indiana handled by the Office of the Attorney General, a majority being sex trafficking cases. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find the pimps, or traffickers; victims are often afraid, or unwilling to testify against them. As a result, they are too rarely prosecuted for their crimes.

During our meetings with Ms. Kuzma and Anita Carpenter, director of INCASA, we asked about approaches in the field of anti-sex trafficking that have been neglected. Ms. Kuzma compared sex trafficking today to domestic violence 20 years ago; it existed but the public chose not to do anything about it, or even to acknowledge it. Public awareness of an issue is a key aspect in combating it. Ms. Kuzma’s approach to combating human trafficking in the U.S. sex trade is a campaign against demand for sex with minors; punishing johns, men who buy sex, for purchasing sex with minors. Ms. Carpenter feels similarly, but is also concerned about the lack of resources and funding for efforts to protect and rehabilitate victims. Despite shortcomings in these areas, efforts in Indiana to combat the issue have been stepped up in recent years, and particularly in the months around the Super Bowl. Both Ms. Carpenter and Ms. Kuzma feel strongly that Indiana organizations and government agencies are working hard to keep up with the fight against human trafficking in the sex trade, but that there is still much work to be done.

Our next visit to Indiana later this year will allow us to contact additional individuals in various fields of anti-human trafficking work. Ms. Kuzma works mainly with victims of sex trafficking, but recognized that labor trafficking is also a prevalent issue in Indiana – however, not an issue that she is regularly involved in. This is a topic that we will address upon our return to the state. We plan to further examine the issue within Indiana, as well as analyze results of anti-sex trafficking efforts during Super Bowl XLVI.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where Are We Now?

We are currently in Atlanta, Georgia and have been receiving an incredible response from organizations and institutions on our research. Each individual we have met with has been more than helpful in connecting us to other professionals in the field of anti-human trafficking work – both sex and labor trafficking. We look forward to sharing some of our findings. An update will be published soon.

Advertisements

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Anti-Sex Trafficking Efforts During Super Bowl XLVI

  1. There is a lot of controversy over the topics of sex trafficking, sex slavery, human trafficking and forced prostitution. Regarding what the definition is, the research methods used to find statistics, what the definition of a victim is, the number of child and adult victims involved, forced vs. unforced sex, how the actual prostitutes themselves feel about it, and legal vs. illegal prostitution.

    There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.

    Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years. And do you actually think that there is a long line of people who want to have a career as a sex slave kidnapping pimp?

    Here are some good websites about sex trafficking:

    http://bebopper76.wordpress.com

    http://sextraffickingtruths.blogspot.com/

    http://www.villagevoice.com/sex-trafficking/

    http://www.melonfarmers.co.uk/thread00272_trafficking_hype.htm

    Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all consentual adult prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims. This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists,politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims.

    They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing.

    These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these “helpless foreign women wives”.

    These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.

    This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.

    Posted by Christine Pullman | February 17, 2012, 6:27 pm
  2. Could you find me the Senate’s definition of ‘sexual conduct’? The document that you provided the link for hints at some “IC 35-42-4-4”. (?) Thank you.

    Posted by Matt | February 18, 2012, 12:59 am
  3. “Whether the number is one, one-hundred, or one-thousand, the issue must be addressed.”
    (Excerpt from your article)

    “This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.”
    (Excerpt from Christine Pullmann’s comment)

    I agree with the first statement that the number of actual victims of sexual exploitation (meaning non-consensual sexual acts) doesn’t matter. Each and every case of sexual violence, be it against a male, female or transgender person, should be investigated and the offender brought to justice. (From all that I hear, violence against transgender people is persistently high, yet I hear of no great initiatives to bring that down.)

    But I think that Christine makes a very valid point, although I would be careful to speak of feminists as if they were a homogenous group. I am under the same impression that there are activists knowingly (or blindly) exploiting the suffering of a small minority to further their own agendas, and money plays no small part in this.

    With the U.S. struggling with a financial crisis, I am surprised that so far there are no calls for an enquiry into the amounts of taxes used for the fight against sex trafficking. Elsewhere, people would be up in arms against the government’s overspending. But here is where the PR of part of the feminist groups, religious groups and others come into play.

    But what most people seemingly fail to understand is that an NGO, after all, is also just a business, even if it (cl)aims to do good. NGOs employ people and NGO staff like to keep their jobs just as much as the next person. Therefore, admitting that the problem they set out to fight is much smaller than believed means to saw off the branch you’re sitting on.

    The global fight against human trafficking is so often used to further other agendas, incl. anti-immigration, anti-prostitution or plain xenophobia, that it’s become suspicious to position oneself against human trafficking when talking to people suffering from policies that claim to benefit them when in fact, they often help to create them.

    For a very special “branch” of the anti-trafficking movement follow the link below.
    “Anti-trafficking campaigners under investigation”
    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/antitrafficking-campaigners-under-investigation-20120214-1t48v.html

    Posted by Matt | February 18, 2012, 1:43 am
  4. Ms. Pullman:

    “It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare.”

    This is a common mis-conception of what it looks like to be a victim of sex trafficking, at least from what I have researched and heard about cases in the U.S., Thailand and Nepal. There are rarely ’24 hour guards’, instead victims of trafficking are often held through psychological trauma and fear. They may be told that their families will be hurt if they escape, or even try to escape; if international victims are trafficked and they have documents, their papers are taken from them and then told that they will be arrested and most likely thrown in jail if they try to talk to the police- in a foreign country where one may not know the language, or area, this is often threat enough; young girls and boys (minors in most U.S. states are identified as 16 and under) are seen to go through ‘trauma bonding’, where they develop a bond with their exploiters and therefore will not identify themselves as victims- this would be a power-and-control dynamic- they feel that they will do what it takes, sell themselves for money multiple times in a night, in order to reach their quota and please their exploiter.

    Since this is their ‘field’ of work, traffickers are known to be fairly sophisticated with their techniques of moving money and human beings. Although trafficking does not necessarily mean movement, it is not uncommon for traffickers to move their victims between cities and states, therefore, missing individuals will be more difficult to identify.

    Due to all of these factors, and with evidence from uncovered sex trafficking cases throughout the U.S., it is clear that these cases, unfortunately, are in fact not ‘rare’.

    Matt, to answer your question regarding ‘sexual conduct’ (as defined by IC 35-42-4-4). These are all definitions found throughout the bill: (4) Child exploitation (IC 35-42-4-4(b), (13) Possession of child pornography (IC 35-42-4-4(c)), (14) Promoting prostitution (IC 35-45-4-4) as a Class B felony.

    Posted by Traffic In Our Streets | February 18, 2012, 12:00 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: ‘Pembroke Circle’ A Feature Film on Human Trafficking « Traffic In Our Streets - March 17, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: