Super Bowl Weekend – Where Sex Traffickers Win

Print More

This weekend, as fans gather for the Super Bowl to enjoy the game, others will be present–not to enjoy, but to be enjoyed.  These are the unseen girls and women in the commercial sex trade.

Last year we began to see the veil being lifted from a range of sexually exploitive behaviors, mostly by powerful men against women, often professional women who, once they muster extraordinary courage, know how to step forward and make certain their story is told.

At the other end of the continuum that starts with sexual harassment is the illegal sex trade where men violate the law by buying access to the bodies of those who, in the vast majority of cases, are among the “least of these,” powerless, mostly girls and women of color, and often underage.

I know this story because I have lived it.  Like those who will be prostituted this weekend, I never grew up with the ambition to perform sex acts for men who paid for them.  I dreamed of a life of advancement and freedom.

In 1972 I graduated from high school and was excited about entering college in the fall.  A friend and I wanted to make some money with summer jobs, and we found an advertisement that sounded promising.  Girls were being hired to dance at a men’s club in downtown Minneapolis. We showed up for an interview and were told that we’d be wearing lingerie.  We didn’t think much of it because we were less covered up sitting next to the swimming pool.  ‘Modeling as well as dancing, and making the $1,000 per week,’ the ad promised.  What could be better?

After a few weeks into our new jobs we were told we would need to learn different moves, and that we would be dancing topless.  Young and naïve, we were told our bodies were works of art and that we should be proud to show them off. We were becoming strippers, not dancers.  In time I was being sent around the state of Minnesota, and well beyond, to disrobe before leering men who were constantly propositioning me.  I felt mired in something that was nothing like what I was promised but, rather, a classic bait-and-switch. To keep going, I started abusing drugs.  It started with alcohol and led to cocaine, as I fell into what those in prostitution call “the life.”  I, a good student with ambition for my future, had quickly become someone I didn’t recognize.

How could I get out?  Raised by my devout grandmother, I couldn’t imagine calling her in my state of degradation.  Finally I called a friend, who drove to rural Minnesota to rescue me.  I stayed with her for six months to get myself straightened out.  Eventually I was able to get back on track and attend the University of Minnesota where I took classes in psychology and women’s studies.  It was during that time that I realized I could use what I learned to help others.

Breaking Free, the organization I now lead, works with more than 500 girls and women annually to help them escape the world of prostitution. Three-quarters of our clients were sexually abused as children.  Many grow up in circumstances far worse than mine, often with exploitive or absent parents, often with poor education and nothing resembling the solid upbringing and education I was blessed with.

We help our clients rebuild their lives, just as my friend helped me rebuild mine so many years ago.  Fortunately, our organization is now being recognized by law enforcement officials, so when the police pick up those victimized by prostitution, they divert them away from the justice system toward groups like mine, who work to lift these girls up and into a new life.

But my work shouldn’t be necessary.  The commercial sex industry, a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, is fueled by the demand of men like those in Minneapolis who will be paying for sex this weekend.  We there need people, policy makers and law enforcement to join together and push for, pass and enforce stronger laws making it clear that it’s no longer okay to buy sex. Time’s up. Every girl must be free, and must be safe.  We can make it happen.

Vednita Carter is Founder and Executive Director of Breaking Free, a U.S. based organization created to end all forms of prostitution and sex-trafficking.










7 thoughts on “Super Bowl Weekend – Where Sex Traffickers Win

  1. As far “Super Bowl Weekend – Where Sex Traffickers Win” by Vednita Carter, I can’t help but wonder why a woc would be willing to throw poor women under the bus just so she can profit off her trafficking NGO. Every year they don’t find victims of sex trafficking at sporting events and every year the trafficking NGOs use this as their fundraising campaign . Now talk about harassment in the work place, if you are a sex worker.

    Even with this lack of evidence, the myth has taken hold through sheer force of repetition, playing on desires to rescue trafficking victims and appear tough on crime.

    Sex Trafficking Hype Surrounding The Super Bowl Does More Harm ..

    Is Sex Trafficking At The Super Bowl A Myth? – Sexploitation (podcast)

    Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Myth Gives Good Cover for Federal .

    FactChecker: Super Bowl Sex Trafficking and Other Myths

    5 Sex Workers Speak Out On The Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Myth

    The Super Bowl Sex-Trafficking Myth: Is it the crisis it’s cracked up to be?

    8 Things to do Instead of Worrying about the Super Bowl Sex

    The Sex Trafficking Super Bowl Myth – News

    Super Bowl Myth: It’s Not as Big for Trafficking as You Might Think,

    Here is a more realistic look at sex trafficking and domestic violence.

    Domestic violence is a huge problem- according to the 2016 FBI stats, there were 402,230 reported cases of serious domestic violence… while there were 595 confirmed cases of sex trafficking (of which 49 were minors)… how do we tell which married women (and husbands who are also victims) are victims of domestic violence? Do we arrest married women and force them to confess to being victims? Do we arrest all husbands in case some of them might be violent?

  2. The Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Myth That Just Won’t Go Away-2015

    ESPLERP calls on journalists not to help anti-prostitution activists peddle the same old story about Super Bowl “sex trafficking”

    San Francisco, CA – January 20th, 2015 – The Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) today called on the media not to help spread the discredited urban myth that there is an increase in sex-trafficking around major sports events such as the Super Bowl.

    The San Francisco Bay Area is gearing up for Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Over the next few weeks, tens of thousands of football fans, and thousands of members of the media will be in town for the event. And anti-prostitution activists are busily spreading the story that there will also be an influx of tens of thousands of sex traffickers, pimps and trafficked prostitutes.

    This story has been a recurring one at Super Bowls – and for other major sports events such as the Olympics. But there is zero evidence that it has ever happened. For example, Snopes judged the notion that “each year the city hosting the Super Bowl is inundated by an influx of prostitutes” to be Mostly False. Further, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) concluded in a report: “There is no evidence that large sporting events cause an increase in trafficking for prostitution“.

    But despite this complete lack of evidence, the FBI is still planning on mounting an operation to combat trafficking at Super Bowl 50. It claims that this will be a softer, victim-centric approach that relies on nonprofit groups such as the Polaris Project to make initial contact with the women before the agency steps in.

    The FBI is very unlikely to catch any traffickers or trafficked victims. But if history is any indication,they will certainly entrap adult sex workers and their clients in sting operations. And to add insult to injury, the FBI and their nonprofit partners will provide no services whatsoever to the arrested sex workers. The US is funding anti-trafficking groups to the tune of $686 million annually, but most of that money goes to “creating awareness on sex trafficking” and paying their board members six figure salaries. Hardly any of that money goes to the people they claim to be rescuing. Indeed the Polaris Project has stated that they do not provide direct services to “victims”.

    “I am outraged that the Polaris Project gets millions a year in funding, to create policies that violate the human rights of sex workers, and put them at great risk of violence, often from the police during the raids they claim are rescues” said Bella Robinson, a board member of ESPLERP. “#endhumantrafficking is a scam and it’s one of the biggest criminal enterprises I have ever seen. And it is all supported by our tax dollars.”

    The anti-trafficking movement has a vested interest in keeping the “trafficking increase at the Super Bowl” myth alive. It’s not about rescuing and helping trafficked victims. It’s about keeping the grants flowing. And responsible journalists shouldn’t be helping them spread their misleading claims.

    Maxine Doogan, President of The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) is a diverse community-based coalition advancing sexual privacy rights through litigation, education, and research.

  3. While I absolutely believe trafficking exists and should be prosecuted, I think it wrong to conflate those who are coerced or forced into the sex trade with those who work in the trade voluntarily. For some women stripping, cam work, prostitution and porn are ways to earn a living, especially if they have obstacles to decent paying work due to educational or systemic barriers. Adult women have the right to autonomous decisions about their own bodies. No one should ever be forced into the sex trades. Children above all should be protected from sexual predation. Adult woman can make their own decisions.

  4. No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking
    accompanies the Super Bowl. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in
    Women, a network of nongovernmental organizations, published a report
    in 2011 examining the record on sex trafficking related to World Cup
    soccer games, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. It found that, “despite
    massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by
    prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that
    trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.”