Come for football, stay for prostitutes
Editorial | Dangerous culture of prostitution growing around sports events
Super Bowl XLVIII was the most anticipated event of the year, and we were especially excited about it since it took place right here in East Rutherford, New Jersey. We are very proud that the Rutgers University marching band had the opportunity to perform at the pregame event. Those of us who couldn’t care less about American football still watched it for the commercials and the half-time show. But for all of its events on the field, the human trafficking and prostitution that goes on off the field around the Super Bowl is incredibly disturbing.
Many have dismissed the link between increased sex trafficking and the Super Bowl as a myth. But let’s take a look at just some of the numbers from the past few years.
According to a Huffington Post article, at the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa, 24 children were trafficked into the city for sex. For the 2010 Super Bowl, more than 10,000 women and children were trafficked into Miami. Online escort ads increased from 135 in January to almost 400 in the days leading up to the event.
The Super Bowl is supposed to be a positive event, one that unites people all across the country for their love of a sport, or purely for the commercials, the food, the music or just to gather together with friends and family. Unfortunately, a alarming underground culture of rape and sex trafficking has become an inherent part of the 48-year-old tradition, and we cannot continue to be oblivious to it as we have in the past. It should seriously bother us that while we’re having a good time, thousands of women and children are suffering immensely at the hands of pimps and johns in one of the largest and most elaborate underground businesses in the world.
We’re always hearing about the cultural issue of rape in India and of prostitution rings in Europe, but it’s kind of hard to believe all of this is happening right here in New Jersey. But to suggest the connection between the Super Bowl and an increase in sex trafficking is a myth is part of the rape culture that pervades our society.
So where is the outrage over this in our government? To his credit, Gov. Chris Christie has been redirecting a lot of the attention being garnered by the Super Bowl to the issue of human trafficking, and he has made it clear that law enforcement will be cracking down on prostitution. But the issue goes far, far beyond simply increasing law enforcement. We can break up prostitution rings, but we need to be able to pick up the pieces. The victims of prostitution need help to recover mentally, physically and emotionally for a long time after those responsible for their suffering are put behind bars.
Oftentimes, prostitution brings to mind the glamorized images of prostitution in Las Vegas. But for the most part, women and children in this country are forced into prostitution against their will. Drug issues that arise because of this make it incredibly difficult to escape the industry, and oversimplifying this issue to a matter of law enforcement does little to solve a complex and deeply rooted problem.
The NFL has remained relatively silent on this issue. By refusing to take a larger and more proactive stance, the NFL is heavily responsible for reinforcing a rape culture we should be making every effort to stamp out of this country. America is a nation that has seen the reform of several civil rights issues, from the abolition of slavery, to granting women the right to vote, to the ongoing struggle for marriage equality. It has developed entire government programs and agencies to fight the war on terrorism and the war on drugs. Where is our war on sex slavery?