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Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl

Nicole Rixen
University of Michigan


Sex-Trafficking and the Super Bowl
Linda is a twelve-year old girl who is bullied frequently at school and is stuck in the
middle of her parents nasty divorce (Thompson, 2013). In order to gain comfort and
acceptance, Linda meets a thirty-seven-year old man online whom eventually becomes her
boyfriend. She agrees to meet his friend at a hotel, who then violently rapes her. This was only
three months after our first contact and he had already broken me down so far and so much that I
would die for him. In the next five years, Linda was raped and abused by over six-hundred men.
International lens of Sex Trafficking
Prostitution is known as one of the oldest professions in the world. However, 90% of
prostitutes are under the control of a pimp, and most will not confess to being sex-trafficked
(Silbert & Pines, 1982). This creates over 20.9 million adults and children bought and sold
worldwide for forced sexual behavior despite international laws and 134 countries criminalizing
sex-trafficking (International Labour Office, 2012, p. 13). Within the next ten years, it is
estimated that human sex trafficking will be the Number 1 international crime, superseding drug
trafficking (Schauer & Wheaten, 2006, p. 147).
The United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) adopted the Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children from the
United Nations General Assembly in 2000 (UNODC, 2010). This was a significant milestone in
attempts to stop the trade of people. The purpose of the protocol was to prevent and combat
human trafficking, protect and assist victims, and promote cooperation between countries to meet
these objectives. Currently, there are 159 parties and 117 signatures to the treaty (UN Charter
art. XVIII, para. 12a).

One of the biggest steps the United Nations created within the UNODC was a universal
definition of sex trafficking. The definition in the protocol states sex trafficking as the
recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of
force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud or deception for the purpose of
exploitation (UNODC, 2014)." Three main components, action, means, and purpose, embody
the full description. The action of sex trafficking is the recruitment, transport, transfer,
harboring, and the receipt of persons (UNODC, 2014). The means of trafficking are the ways
in which a person is trafficked. This includes the threat of or use of force, deception, coercion,
[and] abuse of power or position of vulnerability (UNODC, 2014). The last component,
purpose, is "the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation,
forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of
organs (UNODC, 2014).
Along with creating a universal definition, the UN requires all ratifying states to
criminalize behavior suiting the definition of sex trafficking (UNODC, 2014). The United
Nations also assists individual countries in their legislation concerning the victims, trains
criminal justice workers and providers on the protection of victims, and helps support the social,
physical, and psychological assistance of victims of sex trafficking (UNODC, 2014).
The problem when it comes to using the universal definition is how different states
interpret sex trafficking. Any country has the right to use the language of sexual exploitation
through force or coercion rather than adopting the full language of the means of trafficking
through what they deemed fit (Raymond, 2002). By specifically only focusing on forced
trafficking, governments are ignoring the fact that trafficking can occur with or without the
consent of the victim.

Sex Trafficking within the United States
The United States is ranked the number two destination in the world for sexual
exploitation (Mizus, Moody, Privado, & Douglas, 2003). Almost half of the 18,000 people
trafficked into the United States every year are minors, and that is a conservative estimate. Other
organizations estimate that over 50,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. every year (Mizus et
al., 2003). Within the United States, there is between 100,000 to 150,000 women and children
being held captive underneath modern slavery. These women and children are enslaved for
sexual exploitation not just through overseas trafficking, but also through family and friend
While much research is limited because of the inability to track sex trafficking, there has
been even less limited attention with forced prostitution (Demleinter, 2001).
. . . forced prostitution . . . refer(s) to women or girls who are compelled to engage in
sexual acts with strangers in exchange for commodities with the compulsion emanating
from either physical violence and abuse, threats to their lives or bodily integrity or those
of their families, emotional and physical coercion based on their indebtedness to the
smugglers and procurers, and/or their presence in a foreign country without legal status
and any support network (Demleinter, 2001, p. 263).
Early U.S. statements regarding sex trafficking declared it was organized by organized
crime (Office of Violence against Women [OVAW], 2000). However, it is now believed that
most human trafficking is organized through small groups and individuals (pimps). Once
brought into sex trafficking within the U.S. women trafficked are moved around by these
individuals so frequently, they are unable to create bonds with other individuals (Richard, 2000).

The women brought into the United States are unable to form connections, which creates a
boundary from them getting in contact with law enforcement and other helpful resources to
escape their situations.
Sex Trafficking and Arizona
In April of 2014, Governor Janet Brewer established the Human Trafficking Task Force
through House Bill 2454 (Summary of HB 2454, 2014). The new law discusses Johns,
advertisements, and victims. HB 2454 adds the definition or should have known to existing
legislation on a person who engages in prostitution with a minor 15, 16, and 17 years of age but
reports they did not know the sex worker was a minor. The new law also changes being a John
from a class six felony rather to a class two felony. This changes the jail time a john could be
sentenced with from the range of three months to two years to a minimum of three years to
twelve years.
Those who traffic humans for sex work also seek an increased amount of jail time. HB
2454 adds a range of three to twelve years of imprisonment for pimps varying from their first
offense to those with reoccurring offenses (Summary of HB 2454, 2014). This bill also adds an
aggression factor, adding more time and convictions for those who have trafficked women from
homeless and domestic violence shelters, youth, foster care, and human trafficking. Any visual
advertisement of a minor also results in a class two felony.
A positive resource HB 2454 added to victims in Arizona is protection from the crime of
prostitution by adding defense for those sex trafficked (Summary of HB 2454, 2014). Those
who are child prostitutes and those sex trafficked are also allotted funding through HB 2454. For
protected sex-workers and those trafficked, the new legislation allows any identifying
information to be limited to the public in court and public documents.

Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot stated that the Super Bowl is commonly known as
the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States (Goldberg, 2013). The high
increase of male dominated fans coming into a city creates an influx for demand of sex workers.
However, despite the assumptions of sex trafficking spiking during the Super Bowl, there has
been little to no data to support this claim. The Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women
(2011) discusses the rumored correlation between the Super Bowl and sex trafficking as purely
political, and the increased in trafficking for large sports events as highly unlikely.
Despite the report of the Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women, I, along with
many others, still believe the conditions the Super Bowl creates is a breeding ground for sex
trafficking. In a discussion with Heather Morse, a caseworker at Skyway Railroad, it was said
Arizona will be expecting over 200 women trafficked into the Phoenix area. At the current
moment, there is not enough beds at trafficking centers in Arizona to hold the amount of women
fleeing sex trafficking. In addition, at this present moment, there is not a system in place that
coordinates agencies and emergency/transitional housing placements who help victims of sex
trafficking. This leads to an endless chase of help, which can be potentially harmful to a victim
needing emergency services.
Sex trafficking specifically targets vulnerable populations and women. Women and girls
make up 98% of the population of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation (International
Labour Office, 2012). Within that margin, those who are at the greatest risk for being trafficked
are immigrants, ethnic minority groups, adolescents, and homeless youth (Clawson, Dutch,
Solomon, & Grace, 2009; Estes & Weiner, 2001; Logan, Walker, & Hunt, 2009; Raymond et al.,

2001). These groups not only lack power, but also lack social support systems and economic
means. As stated by Shauer and Wheaton (2006), Incidence of slavery, in its sex trafficking
form, appears to be directly correlated with the increasing marginalization of women.
Project Goals
In order to help those wanting to escape sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, these are
the goals I hope to accomplish:
Research, understand, and record the intake process/criteria of at least three completed
placement organizations per week.
Within this research, target the west coast and pacific time zone for emergency housing
placements and agencies willing to help victims of sex trafficking.
Secure thirty beds on the west coast by the end of 2014 in preparation of the Super Bowl
and have resource information easily located and accessible for Skyway Railroad and the
Dream Center.
Initial Assessment, Research, and Struggles
When I started my work collaborating with the Dream Center and Skyway Railroad, I was
frustrated from the lack of communication on their part. I interviewed with Heather Morse and
discussed their goals and work regarding the upcoming Super Bowl in Arizona. Morse stated
there was a lack of connecting resources for victims of sex trafficking, and there would be a high
demand for those resources within the upcoming months. We discussed my role as a researcher,
organizer, and communicator underneath the Dream Center and find agencies and emergency
services willing to provide for escaping victims. After getting off the phone with her, I was ready
to start working and do my part of the organizing, but it was not until two weeks later that I
received the documents and information I needed for the project. I also was working underneath

the project manager in Phoenix and was supposed to be communicating with her for potential
ideas, resources, and information. To this day, I have not received any email back from Jessica
Knight, and a lot of the supplies I need in order to help this effort has not been handed to me.
While I have not received the proper documents to record the information I receive from
agencies and emergency shelters, I have also found difficulty in the communication with these
agencies. I feel like I am partially annoying them with the list of questions I ask them, and
sometimes I do not receive word back. There have been multiple occasions when I was unable
to talk to the current representative on the phone and they left my name and number for the
caseworker, yet I have not received any contact since the initial call.
All of my research for agencies and shelters on the pacific coast that are willing to help the
Dream Centers efforts has come through findings on the internet. I wanted to talk to Jessica
Knight about the struggles and potential possibilities within Arizona but have not received word
back. As someone who interned at a domestic violence shelter in her undergraduate career, I
wanted to know why she was not utilizing the system and services in place for victims of sexual
and domestic violence.
In Arizona, if you call 211, a phone representative will ask you what services you need, and
there is a whole sector within 211 that works specifically with domestic violence and sexul
assault victims. 211 has the list of every shelter in Maricopa County and the number of spaces
available. If a victim is fleeing a domestic or sexual violence situation, the representative will be
their caseworker for finding available shelter space and starting the intake process for their
acceptance into the shelter. There also is a free shuttle service that contracts with 211 and the
shelters to pick of the victim if they do not have their own transportation and drop them off at the
undisclosed shelter location. Each shelter has their own case managers and list of services and

resources for their clients to further them within the shelters program. I felt that utilizing this
service would be an asset and an easy/faster progression for help to victims escaping sex
trafficking during the Super Bowl.
When searching for resources, key words, like prostitution, sex-trafficking, international
law of sex-trafficking, Super Bowl and sex trafficking, and emergency shelters in California,
were used to find the statistics that were integral to this research. These searches and uses of key
terms worked both in the macro findings of prostitution and sex trafficking universally as well as
in the mezzo findings that affect certain countries and states. Databases, like EBESCO Lexis
Academic, PSYCHinfo, Google Scholar, as well as were used in the findings of this
Work to Date, Barriers, and Theories
Currently I have contacted and received full information for four agencies. This
information includes name of organization, other resources they provide, length of program,
costs, telephone number, bed capacity, age allowed, address, if they are trafficking specific,
intake process, type of program, if children are allowed, intake coordinators name, if an ID is
required, and if they will commit beds for the Super Bowl.
These emergency shelters have ranged from being undisclosed addresses in the middle to
the northern areas of California. Trying to fully discuss all of the questions with the phone
operator at each shelter has been difficult. They are skeptical even after I tell them my position
and what end result I am working towards.
While I understand that Arizona does not have enough shelter to house the incoming
amount of victims escaping sex trafficking and are seeking sources elsewhere, I wonder how
government agencies and organizations are going to transfer these victims, specifically minors,

to other states. This is a question I have for Jessica Knight, but I have not received a response
back yet. In the meantime, I have been researching what efforts other communities who have
previously hosted the Super Bowl have done. Other primary sources I have contacted have only
reported back to me about how there is no data with a significant correlation between sex
trafficking and the Super Bowl.
Frameworks and Models
Creating and organizing a concentrated center for emergency housing and supportive
services uses both locality development and social action. While this project focuses on victims,
guiding mass organizations, targeting social injustice and aggravated populations, it also narrows
to a community capacity and integrates multiple task-oriented groups through geographic
centered locations. Using these approaches covers variable levels of community intervention
(Rothman, 1996).
This project also focuses on neighborhood/community development and social/economic
development (Weil & Gamble, 1995). I am working to organize resources for a targeted
geographic area and those who are marginalized and oppressed within that region.
Stages and Developing Steps
While I have a relevant amount of background information, many questions have not
been answered. I have tried to see what other theories and models other communities used to
fight the influx of sex trafficking. However, many workers within sex trafficking are skeptical
about the connection between sex trafficking. Many people have actually got upset from the
hysteria sports and sex trafficking brings because they believe it dismisses true vulnerable times
and areas.

The next step to this project is to keep collecting information and resources for the Dream
Center, no matter how difficult it may be. I hope to come in contact with those who do have
knowledge of preventative steps and other practices that have combated sex trafficking during
the Super Bowl in previous years. While I was assigned to stay at a minute level of tasks, I hope
to broaden my knowledge and research to help improve future directions and preventative
Personal Goals and Interests
While I still do not know exactly what I want to take away from the social work field or
what population I am most passionate about, this project allows me to work with a cause and
population I personally think needs more attention while at a community organization level. For
someone who is interested in how policy affects our community and what policies we should
have in place, I am able to also look at the policies, internationally, nationally, statewide, and
within organizations, that affect in both positive and negative ways with this population. I also
enjoy working in a cause-based focus because it allows me to work amongst multiple
identities. Instead of targeting a specific demographic, working in the realm of sex trafficking
allows me to focus on a women-dominant issue while seeing how race, sexuality, age, socio-
economic status, and so on interplay within the issue.
Sex trafficking is such a broad issue that it is difficult to master all of the information.
How people are being trafficked, where people are being trafficked, the people who are
trafficking, and so on are always changing. Even at a more broadened scale, the victims of sex
trafficking are not solely affected by their identity, but the prominence of sex trafficking itself is
also fluid based on location, policies, and macro events occurring around the world. Since it is
such a broad issue and has so many levels, I almost feel overwhelmed simply thinking about the

topic and its levels. I hope to keep expanding myself through research and hands-on experience
to become more grounded and knowledgeable while the project progresses.

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