MADISON, Wis. — We humans love our sports. We love gathering together with other fans of our favorite team to feel united, to cheer our players on and to watch our players compete with everything they have. But sporting events, whether domestic or international, have a dark side that many people don’t know much about: human trafficking. Human trafficking is defined by Human Trafficking Search as, “the illegal trade of human beings, through abduction, the use of threat of force, deception, fraud or ‘sale’ for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor.”
There are estimated to be at least 27 million people in human trafficking across the globe today, with the average price per person being around $90. Most of the population of those trafficked are females or children. Though human trafficking is a year-round problem that exists in every U.S. state and in nearly every country of the world, when hoards of people, particularly men, flock to a specific location for a sporting event, there tends to be an increase of trafficking in these locations.
Here are three cases where human trafficking during sporting events is most rampant.
The Super Bowl
TakePart.Org reported that “the week before [the 2014]Super Bowl, New York law enforcement charged 18 people with running a prostitution…ring.” Apparently, these pimps were targeting rich male tourists that were in town for the event. ABC News also reported that “during the Dallas Super Bowl in 2011, there was a 300 percent increase in the Internet ads regarding sex trafficking” and that during the Florida Super Bowl in 2009, “they were actually advertising a young woman as a Super Bowl special.” If even one person is trafficked during such an event as the Super Bowl, an iconic American event, we can be sure that there is still more work to be done to stop this practice.
Sources: Take Part, ABC News
Photo: The A21 Campaign
A large part of the human trafficking that occurs before and during the Olympics comes from the “demand for cheap labor,” which often means “exploiting immigrants who will work for less.” It was reported that “tens of thousands of workers” worked on “hundreds of projects” for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and that many of these workers suffered “withheld wages, theft of their identification and travel documents, verbal and physical abuse and [had]been forced to work inhumane hours in unsafe conditions.”
During the Sochi Olympics, there were also incidents reported from women such as Brittney Cason, a reporter and radio personality, who disclosed to the media that men from Russia had contacted her and another woman and promised a false job opportunity in order to get them to Russia to be trafficked for the Olympics. It has also been noted that “American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries,” which is a reason that many traffickers and pimps try to recruit women from America for these large sporting events.
Sources: Take Part, XO Jane
The World Cup
Though many know about social problems such as construction and labor issues in Brazil leading up to the 2014 World Cup, mostly due to media coverage of protests, a lesser-known social problem related to the World Cup is human trafficking surrounding the tournament. Because there are “already more than 250,000 child victims of commercial sexual exploitation” in Brazil, and because there is a short-term increase in demand for sexual services and cheap labor, pimps recruit additional workers, many of whom will be children.
Source: Argentina Independent
For all of these events, there are usually increases in police efforts to keep human trafficking from happening. In the past, these anti-trafficking strategies from law enforcement agents have made the statistics for actual trafficking decrease to almost no reported cases during events. However, just because it is not being seen does not mean that it is not happening.
For more information on how to get involved in the fight against human trafficking, check out some of these organizations and projects that are working hard to stop trafficking domestically and globally.
- International Justice Mission
- The A21 Campaign
- The CNN Freedom Project
- End It Movement
- Polaris Project