Something in the Shadows: Sex trafficking and the Super Bowl
This weekend, Super Bowl LVIII will enthrall sports fans nationwide as they eagerly watch the game of the season. The showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs will surely be one of the most talked about events of the year. It is even speculated that more than one pop star will attend. Yet, since ticket prices range from $5,508 to $35,018, many spectators will likely choose to enjoy the game from their cozy living rooms.
Yep. Make no mistake, on Sunday, February 11, the spotlights will shine brightly on Allegiant Stadium. Yet, something horrid will be happening in the shadows.
In recent years, the topic of sex trafficking typically makes its way to social media in connection with the big game. Years ago, it was on Facebook that I first read a post that claimed the Super Bowl was “the biggest night for sex trafficking” in the U.S.
But the question remains, is it true?
In short, no one knows.
Due to the nature of the underground crime, there is no definitive data surrounding that particular claim. It is hard to know the exact number of victims that are sold on the night of the big game or any other night of the year. However, it is common knowledge that when individuals gather in one location for the sake of an event, the demand is higher, and more products are sold. Often, the larger the event, the better it is for business. Unfortunately, the same applies to the world of sex trafficking.
Just as the Allegiant concession stands will sell loads of snacks and soda … lowlifes outside of the arena will sell others for the sake of sex.
And this year, it is taking place in one of the most sexually exploitive cities in the U.S. – Las Vegas, Nevada.
Vegas, also dubbed “Sin City,” is well-known for its flashing lights and sex appeal. But it also happens to be located in the only U.S. state with legalized prostitution. Although prostitution is illegal in Clark County (where Vegas resides), neighboring Nevada countries allow it. In fact, some brothels even bus buyers from the famed city across county lines and to its business.
In 2019, 2020, and 2021, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) listed the entire state of Nevada as one of its annual Dirty Dozen recipients. The list includes 12 entities that profit from sexual abuse and exploitation. After much research, NCOSE found that in Nevada, legalized prostitution “failed to protect women from sexual exploitation, violence, or psychological trauma.”
After surveying 45 women who experienced prostitution in Nevada brothels, NCOSE found the following:
- 57% of the women gave all or part of their income to their pimp or trafficker.
- 81% of the women reported they wanted to escape prostitution regardless of its legal status.
- 23% self-reported they were prostituted as a child.
- 50% had prostituted illegally.
- 47% had pornography made of them while in prostitution.
- 47% had been homeless.
- 44% were verbally abused in prostitution.
If those numbers aren’t bad enough, legalized prostitution also furthers skewed mindsets such as, “If it’s legal in one state, then that totally means it’s okay to have sex for money.”
And those exact thoughts and others similar to it are why trafficking is the fastest-growing crime in the world. Because legal or not, the demand is prevalent, and sellers will do whatever it takes to get their products into the hands of buyers.
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has reported the following:
- 283,584 hotline calls,
- 30,532 online reports,
- 7,696 chats,
- 62, 273 text message reports,
- 15,409 emails received.
In 2021, the same hotline received 571 tips from the hotline and 249 signals from trafficking victims – just from Nevada. And those are just the ones that were reported!
This Sunday night, it is predicted that more than 450,000 will travel to Vegas for the game. And while I can’t tell you that it will be the “largest night for sex trafficking,” I do know within the state and city, human beings – boys, girls, women, and men – will be sold for sex and will continue to be sold every day following.
To quote the anti-trafficking organization International Justice Mission, “It is significantly more troubling that sex and labor trafficking are a problem every day, worldwide. There are nearly 28 million people trapped in human trafficking. It’s enough to fill every seat of Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium every day for the next two years.”
This weekend, I ask that we pray for those suffering in the shadows instead of only getting caught up in a silly game. They are just as precious in His sight.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9).
To report suspected human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or go to humantraffickinghotline.org to submita tip. If you have information regarding a missing child or suspect child sexual exploitation, you can also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-843-5678 or utilizing cybertipline.com
Saying something could change someone’s everything.