According to its web site, the 2014 NFL Super Bowl, to be played in New Jersey, will bring the region’s tourism industry over a half billion dollars. There will be parties; restaurants and bars will be packed, and the state’s economy will receive a much-needed shot in the arm.
But the festivities bring a down side, also. Under the radar of all the game hoopla and news stories about the community festivities, past Super Bowls have seen an increase in human trafficking in the host cities.
According to Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle,
Slavery still exists in the United States. Until recently, human trafficking has remained in the shadows of society. Victims, often children and vulnerable women, are too afraid and dependent on traffickers to break their silence and seek help. Exploited for years, they are coerced into prostitution, labor, and drug activity. When they finally have a chance to regain their freedom, they are prosecuted for the crimes they were forced to commit while enslaved, while the real perpetrators remain untouched by the law
To help combat this scourge, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle has introduced a bill, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act (A3352) which promotes awareness, provides training to law enforcement, and will focus not only on prosecution, but help for survivors of these crimes.
Last month, President Obama proclaimed that fighting human trafficking is one of the great civil rights battles of the 21st Century. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center handled almost 20,000 calls for assistance, but clearly this is the tip of the iceberg. Initiatives like those of the President and of Assemblywoman Vainieri-Huttle will encourage more victims to self-identify and help eradicate this plague. And lest you think this is a problem that is exclusive to the economically distressed areas of the state, according to the Polaris Project, human trafficking calls were originated in places like Voorhees and Cherry Hill, as well as other locales around the state.
So as you’re watching football this fall, whether you’re thinking about this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans, or next year’s in New Jersey, write to your federal and state legislators to support the fight against human trafficking. Not just on Super Bowl Sunday, but year round.
Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888