In an article headlined Super Bowl: Volunteers Prepare to Stop Pimps, Sex Traffickers, the Christian Post reports on what may be the very weirdest sporting-event-related promotional giveaway in history: Super Bowl anti-sex-slavery soap. No, I’m not making this up:
Theresa Flores, founder of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.), told The Christian Post that major sporting events like the Super Bowl generally have more men in attendance who are visiting from a different city, and often do things they wouldn’t normally do at home. This creates a demand that “traffickers and pimps are there willing and waiting to supply,” she said.
Because of this, about 150 volunteers for S.O.A.P. are heading to Indiana before the event, not to tailgate, but to pass out soap at Indianapolis motels.
Each bar of soap will have a label on it with phrases like “Are you being threatened?” or “Are you witnessing young girls being prostituted?” The soap provides the number for a human trafficking hotline so that those at the hotel, or young girls who are being trafficked, will see it and can call for help.
S.O.A.P. volunteers will distribute the bars Feb. 1-2, in conjunction with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship students who will hand out fliers to raise awareness for the trafficking issue with football fans.”
This has been an ongoing theme over the last week; the anti-trafficking activists are coming on like runningbacks. A Texas group called Traffick 911 has even started a petition trying to force the NFL to post their “I’m Not Buying It” posters opposing human trafficking. That’s called “free advertising.” The NFL is a business. If the New York Department of Public Health has to pay for their posters on the subway, my thinking is that some half-baked foundation ought to do the same for their misinformation spreading anti-sex hysteria at the Super Bowl. Would those same groups have been happy if public health groups tried get the NFL to put up posters encouraging safer sex?
Even Catholic nuns are getting into the act — at least eleven different congregations of them, according to this post at the LA Times:
[Sister Ann Oestreich] is coordinating the Super Bowl 2012 Anti-Trafficking Initiative for the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan. The group says it has contacted the managers of 220 hotels within a 50-mile radius of Indianapolis to help spot trafficking.
…Major events such as a Super Bowl or Olympics often attract a host of illegal activities, including sex trafficking and gambling.
To deal with an expected increase in prostitution, Indiana passed a law, which went into effect on Monday, designed to make prosecution of sex trafficking easier. Among other things, the law makes it a felony to recruit, transport or harbor anyone under the age of 16 for prostitution or other sexual conduct, punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison.
Another nun, Sister Nancy Conway, is quoted as saying, “If one woman is saved at the Super Bowl, it will all have been worth it,” in a WCKY Cleveland article that quotes some unbelievably sketchy statistics. The piece claims “The federal government estimates human trafficking is a $15 billion a year business. It’s also estimated about a 1000 girls are trafficked every year in Ohio alone.” Sister Pat Bergen quoted even more outrageous statistics in her article for the Chicago Tribune.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. Hooray for Flores, Conway, Traffick 911 and their parade of fanatics for opposing human trafficking…if that’s what they’re really doing. But it pays to remember that what they’re supposedly selling in this case is not the idea that human trafficking is bad, but that it happens more during the Super Bowl. Does it? Or have these groups cooked up a crazed response to a fictional phenomenon, in order to sell a few unrelated ideas — the ones about how sex is bad, sex work is bad, all sex workers are victims, and events like the Super Bowl encourage men to be somewhere other than church on a Sunday?
If the Sisters and the soap-wielding Crusaders have really convinced themselves they’re trying to make the world a better place, maybe their intentions are good. But that’s meeting them more than halfway, because in order to believe that these kind of tactics actually address issues of human trafficking, you have to be fantastically uneducated on the subject. At a certain point, ignorance is indistinguishable from malice.
The idea that sporting events cause a surge in prostitution has been an enduring myth told and retold for some years. I heard it when Germany hosted the World Cup. In fact, the LA Times, which so credulously reported the claim as fact, debunked it back in 2010, when the before-the-fact estimate that 40,000 prostitutes would enter Germany for the 2006 World Cup was repeated in the South African press, verbatim, as an estimate for the 2010′s FIFA — five years after the Germans had debunked the claim in relation to the World Cup.
“Sporting events bring prostitutes into town” have been reported for the last several years, like clockwork, before each Super Bowl, as well as before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And it’s not just anti-sex activists who are spreading the hysteria. Law enforcement jumps on the bandwagon, claiming that prostitution will skyrocket before the Super Bowl. In every case, this is reported before the fact. Want to know why? Because after the fact, the numbers don’t hold up.
Mind you, the cops know this. All they have to do is call their fellow cops in other cities, which is what Dallas/Ft. Worth’s WFAA-TV Channel 8 did. Yet that doesn’t happen…why? Is it justification for overtime? Lobbying for new Grizzly APCs with water-cannon turrets?
WFAA-TV Channel 8 published this expos