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January 30, 2014

The Daily Beast: Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl

By Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First

In the lead up to the Super Bowl, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said his state was going to clamp down on trafficking. In a tweet, he wrote: "We are only a few days away from the Super Bowl. A time, where sex trafficking is at a high risk," He then followed up with another tweet: "So to anyone out there that is even thinking about it. Don't even try it. We have eyes and ears on the ground and on the web."

There is debate about whether the Super Bowl is a major magnet for human trafficking.  But there is no debate that, like the drug and arms trades, trafficking is a global criminal enterprise that operates according to the fundamental economic principles of supply and demand. Strong anecdotal evidence has shown that male-dominated gatherings —such as military bases, fracking outposts and other energy extraction sites, and, truck stops - are linked to sex trafficking operations. This means any effort to address the problem should pay special attention to where the men are—and then target buyers and sellers.  Too often, law enforcement focuses on supply, re-victimizing the victims through criminal prosecutions for prostitution. These women are also understandably reluctant to identify their exploiters or to testify against them.  So the traffickers and Johns remain unscathed.

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