The Super Bowl is over; the winners awarded their trophy, the loser sadly returning to their homes wondering what went wrong. New York and New Jersey go back to their daily routines and many residents have bigger bank accounts from sales of concessions, team memorabilia, and souvenirs. But the Super Bowl story didn’t begin or end on the field.
The FBI reports they arrested forty five pimps and their associates. They also report sixteen juveniles ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old were recovered. Go ahead and read those ages again. Some of these young people had been reported missing by their families. Some of the arrested had traveled from other states because high profile events like the Super Bowl have become huge moneymakers for child prostitution rings.
Child sex trafficking is a big business. Many people think this is a crime affecting other poorer countries. Surely this doesn’t happen in the United States. Many of these young victims tell stories of being moved from state to state, city to city following high dollar sports events, conventions, and other venues. Keeping one step ahead of law enforcement the pimps also use this constant movement to keep the victims isolated from their families and friends. Even when these 16 or 17 year olds are arrested they are afraid to reveal their circumstances. They see no escape from the lives they have been forced in to.
While some of these teens may be runaways left to live day to day, homeless and hopeless, others may have been lured away from safe homes or worse sold to pimps by families that should be protecting them.
We think we know about this type of crime, we understand what is happening. We imagine rebellious teens running away from home, being picked up at a bus station by a wily pimp and forced to stand on street corners night after night before returning to the pimp’s apartment.
According to a blog from Huffington Post by Nathan Harden there are eight facts we don’t know about child sex trafficking.
“LOVE146 — an international charity that provides aftercare and rehabilitation for children rescued from sexual slavery — has collaborated with Nashville-based rock group Band of Love on a new video to increase public awareness on this issue. The video reveals a number of surprising facts about the child sex trade, including the following:
– In some cases, children as young as eight years old are forced to work as prostitutes.
– An enslaved child may be raped between five and ten times per night.
– The transaction may be for as little as $5 each time. However, the first time a child is sold, the price may rise as high as $200.
– When a child is forced into a brothel, her name is typically replaced with a number — further stripping her of her humanity. LOVE146 — the charity I mentioned before — was named in honor of just such a girl. Her designated number was 146.
– Child brothels will sometimes print up a menu for men to look at, complete with pictures and prices — as if each child were a piece of meat.
– On average, two children are sold every minute.
– By some estimates, as many as 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world. This “hidden” problem is larger than many of us can imagine.”
Two children are sold every minute. Think about that. That’s about 120 children in an hour. School days are usually about 8 hours long, from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Multiply that 120 children by 8 hours. Instead of sitting in classrooms, interacting with friends of like age, learning skills that will lead to productive and happy lives these children are prisoners with little hope for the future.
As a society we need to raise awareness of this crime. It is our responsibility to find organizations that work toward ending this horror and work toward creating safe environments for children. We need to speak out and let children know we will protect them. Children who are rescued need to be afforded physical and mental healthcare, a safe place to live, education and guidance to empower them to move forward into lives where they are happy and productive members of society.
- Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking
- Breaking Free
- Breaking Out Corporation
- Called to Rescue
- Children of the Night
- Children’s Rescue Initiative
- Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of more than 100 non-governmental organisations from all regions of the world, who share a deep concern for the women, children and men whose human rights have been violated by the criminal practice of trafficking in persons