Don’t forget about sex trafficking around future Minnesota Super Bowl

by Sana Elassar, University alumna

Minnesota football fans are likely excited that we will host the 2018 Super Bowl at the new Vikings stadium, which is expected to be completed in 2016. Many will be drawn from various parts of the United States to Minnesota in support of their teams. This is very exciting. But, in all this excitement, there is something most people do not think about, and that is the unfortunate business enterprise of human sex trafficking at major sporting events.

Human sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which people profit from the control and exploitation of others. According to a Fox News report, FBI officials said that at the 2014 Super Bowl, 16 children as young as 13 were rescued and more than 45 pimps were arrested. Some of those arrested openly admitted that they traveled to New Jersey, where the 2014 Super Bowl was held, from other states solely and primarily for the purpose of forcing children and women to indulge in sexual activity for financial gain with those attending the Super Bowl.

Sadly, the assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division told Fox that high-profile special events that tend to bring in a large number of people are a profitable opportunity for child prostitution criminal enterprises.

Those reading this letter may ask themselves as to why we as Minnesotans should worry about human sex trafficking since it happened in New Jersey and is old news. What many may not know is that according to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the FBI has ranked the Twin Cities as one of 13 cities in the U.S. with a high incidence rate of child prostitution.

We deal with human sex trafficking on a daily basis. In fact, it seems like our local newspapers publish at least one story pertaining to sex trafficking in Minnesota each week.

Minnesota has made progress in this area by passing the Safe Harbor Act in 2011, which fully goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2014. Under this new law, children under the age of 18 who have been trafficked will be treated as victims and not criminals. This is particularly important since homeless and runaway youth are a vulnerable population.