Today I’m asking Shayne Moore & Kimberly Yim, authors of Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern Day Slavery, how Christians can respond when human trafficking happens close to home.
Shayne, Sunday will be the Super Bowl. Let’s say I live in suburban New Jersey. What’s happening? Who’s responsible? Who are the victims?
Shayne: For most of us who just want to enjoy the game of football and to cheer our favorite team it is hard to hear and to accept the reality of human trafficking associated with the Super Bowl. Yet the reality is that human trafficking, in the form of prostitution, escalates in the cities who host these highly attended events. This year will be no exception. The Super Bowl attracts a sector of violence, organized criminal activity that operates in plain sight without notice including human trafficking in both the sex and labor industries.
“New Jersey has a huge trafficking problem, ” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who is co-chairman of the House anti-human trafficking caucus and who wrote the first national legislation in 2000 on human trafficking. “One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks.” Women are brought in to work as prostitutes for the demand that is present during these events. As a church and as a culture, Kim and I believe it is time we start to shine a spotlight on the demand side of human trafficking in our own backyards… i.e…our Super Bowl.
Kimberly, give me a real live face to put with one of these victims. Who is she?
Kim: She is 13 year old “Casey, ” a middle schooler who was wooed by an older guy who told her she was beautiful. No one had told her she was beautiful before. She was flattered. Life for her at home is chaotic and she often feels like no one understands her or even notices her. And this handsome guy speaks so sweetly toward her and he offered to take her out to lunch. A date. A sweet tender kiss. And then things change. She is beaten and drugged and told she will get him a few more bucks because of her virginity. She is raped by some anonymous man who doesn’t care she is only a child and he doesn’t even care that Casey’s eyes are closed due to the fact that she is in and out of consciousness. He wanted a young virgin and he knew where to find one. On a website on the internet that posts “young, fresh, eager to please.”
The buyer wants the full testosterone experience when going to New Jersey for Superbowl—football, beer, and sex. Casey will find herself servicing up to twenty-five men that night and will hardly be able to walk in the morning. Her “boyfriend” will pocket up to $25, 000 in a couple days and will take Casey for an egg sandwich in the morning.
Can you describe what kind of prep work has been done in advance in a Super Bowl city? Is there prevention work to combat the problem?
Kim: Law enforcement is being trained on what to look for and media is already going out informing the public of precautions and what is being done to minimize the problem. There are some organizations that are training hotel managers and putting the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number on bottom of soaps and bathroom doors. This Hotline number is for reporting concerns or for someone who is seeking help.
Shayne: According to the New Jersey Coalition against human trafficking the community has been looking at this for over year. Things include:
- Strengthen Law Enforcement & Victim Services
- Raise Community Awareness – through outreach, media, and trainings
- Engage Civil Society – local and national advocates, community organizations, churches, and colleges
- Anti-Demand Campaign
- Outreach to groups at risk
- Establish protocols within the travel and tourism industry including local hotels
- Distribute Victim Recovery Materials
- Strengthen laws to facilitate persecuting traffickers and rescuing victims
I’m curious if there are particular gifts that men bring to this mission to end human trafficking and if there are particular gifts that women bring to it. Give me your thoughts…
Shayne: I love football along with the men. I think it is going to take both men and women who love the game to be responsible fans, supporters, and event attendees and have zero tolerance for the demand and the selling of human beings in the name of “entertainment.”
Kim: Men bring men and when discussing the issue of sex trafficking—men are the demand. Sex trafficking is a supply and demand issue. The pimps, traffickers, slave owners bring the supply of women and girls and sometimes young boys. The problem of sex trafficking would be eliminated if it were not for the demand. Men are the demand side of this problem. There would be no money and traffickers would find another line of work if it weren’t the demand—men wanting to pay for sex. Now, of course, I am not talking about all men.
Give me a baby step. I’ve heard a lot about this issue & I want to take my first step. What is it?
Shayne: We always direct people to our favorite websites like Polaris Project and International Justice Mission. There are many easy and accessible first-steps for the everyday person and ways to stay informed and to get involved.
Kim: Baby steps in how to help:
1) Put the National Human Trafficking Hotline in your phone right now. 888-373-7888. Call it to report a tip, ask a question about a concern you might have about a place of business or a person you met, or if you or someone you know needs help. Give that number to traveling sales crews that come to your door and who give you a story that doesn’t seem quite right with you and tell them if they need help or this isn’t what they signed up to do – there is help for them. Give the number to someone you are concerned about and simply say “If your job isn’t what you thought it would be and you feel safe to leave call this number.”
2) Read our book Refuse To Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern Day Slavery. In it we give very practical next steps that any person can do regardless of where they live or the life stage they are. There is something we can all do and we must do in order to end all forms of Modern Day Slavery.
Photo Credit: M. Bradley Elliott, Westmont