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Human Trafficking Center

8 Things to do Instead of Worrying about the Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Myth


Feb 2016



By Rex Hamaker, Marketing and Communications Director

Reports of waves of sex trafficking victims being shipped to major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, are popping up all over newsfeeds in the run up to the big game.  Journalists with integrity note, though often buried deep into their stories, that these fears are completely unfounded and have never actually been documented to any significant degree. These stories are full of “truthiness” but short on verification, especially following the event.  For debunkings, check here, here, and here.  More than just misinforming the public, inaccurate awareness pulls attention and limited resources away from actually confirmed instances of human trafficking.

In the meantime, you can take a number of steps to get educated about substantiated problems and  support groups fighting trafficking.  Alternatively, comment on what you do to fight trafficking in your community!

  1. Come to Human Trafficking Center events to learn more about trafficking from speakers who lead the anti-trafficking movement.

Sign up for our event announcements or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not too late to RSVP to hear the Executive Director of Free the Slaves, Maurice Middleberg, on February 9.  You can also watch videos of past speakers Kevin Bales and Yvonne Zimmerman.

  1. Support an anti-trafficking non-profit, especially with a monthly gift.

“Increased awareness” is wonderful, but non-profits need money.  A regular, monthly donation is a fantastic way to help provide them with financial stability and enable them to more accurately plan how and when to deliver and expand their services.  Our Partners page lists Denver-area nonprofits like the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, national organizations like Polaris, and international ones like La Strada.

  1. Support legislation that supports survivors.

A recently published report found that between 2003-2012, most states criminalized human trafficking, but barely half had laws that provided support for victims.  Even Safe Harbor laws that prevent victims of sex trafficking being charged with crimes don’t necessarily provide victim support, and when they do, states can mandate it against a survivor’s wishes or actual needs.

  1. Watch the Slavery by Another Name documentary.

From the film description: “Slavery by Another Name challenges one of our country’s most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The documentary recounts how in the years following the Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, keeping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in bondage, trapping them in a brutal system that would persist until the onset of World War II.”  The film covers a historical period, but recent reporting shows the phenomenon continues until today.

  1. Look into the supply chain of your favorite product.

Even soccer balls used in official FIFA games have been connected to child labor.  A growing number of organizations like Verité and Free2Work offer the chance to look into which industries and companies are reliant on labor exploitation.  You can learn about forced labor and trafficking in fashion from the documentary The True Cost.

  1. Volunteer at a shelter/service that supports survivors.

Some Denver-area service providers are the Social Wellness Advocacy Network, Colfax Community Network, and the Mile-High Women’s Outreach Project. Often, human trafficking survivors have needs met by non-profits that don’t focus exclusively on trafficking but are nevertheless invaluable. For example, they also often need legal or immigration services such as those provided by Colorado Legal Services and the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network.

  1. Learn about documented instances where sports involve actual human rights and labor abuses, including trafficking.

African soccer players are reportedly trafficked within Africa and to Europe.  Labor abuses and human trafficking were part of the Sochi Olympics and are ongoing in Qatari-hosted World Cup construction projects.

  1. Look up a country of interest in the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, including America.

The TIP report is controversial, but it is still the most comprehensive, annually  published document on human trafficking with a global scope.  For a different perspective, look at the report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Image, modified by Seth Daire, via Vox Efx.

About the Human Trafficking Center

The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.

Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.


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