Super Bowl 2013: More Than Just Football

31 Jan

ImageLauren Nutter
BSW Intern, NASW Ohio Chapter

The Super Bowl is a fun time for most everyone in the United States. In fact – Super Bowl Sunday has almost become an American holiday for many fans. More than 111.3 million people watched the Super Bowl in 2012. All the hype and excitement of athleticism, competition, loyalty and camaraderie lead up to one important Sunday for all sports enthusiasts: Super Bowl Sunday, a time when the season comes to a close. This year’s Super Bowl takes place in New Orleans; the city will be flushed with fans, media and athletes. In the mix of the crowd, in the shadows of the celebrations, there is a population no one will notice or talk about – victims of human trafficking and their pimps.

Super Bowl, like other events, brings an increased amount of human trafficking into our cities.  It has been called the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States. Due to the increase in travelers, supply and demand raises for sexual favors. Not only are victims brought to the city, but women and children are taken from the game and pulled into the sex trafficking ring. Most people who are buying services (also known as ‘Johns’) think that they are buying services from prostitutes who are of age and are choosing to be in that position. Sadly, most Johns do not understand that their purchase of services is only adding to an international growing social justice problem and human rights issue known as human trafficking.

As the city of New Orleans prepares for the largest sporting event in the country it is sad that no thoughts of ways to combat human trafficking will ever cross the minds of most people attending and enjoying the Super Bowl festivities.

Theresa Flores, a survivor of human trafficking, started an organization called S.O.A.P which stands for: Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution. S.O.A.P uses actual bars of soap as an outreach promotion. These bars of soap are covered in a wrapping with the human trafficking hotline (for help) as well as pictures of missing women and children who are in the human trafficking ring. S.O.A.P visits the city where the Super Bowl occurs and distributes bars of soap to hotels, motels and other places where ‘acts of service’ might take place. S.O.A.P also distributes flyers and other promotional materials that week and weekend to raise awareness of suspicious activity. The effect that S.O.A.P has already had is monumental.

If you are one of many people attending the Super Bowl this year, take time to be aware of your surroundings, realizing that Super Bowl weekend is about more than just football. For more information about S.O.A.P and for ways to get involved please visit the S.O.A.P website.

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