Super Bowl largest sex trafficking event

Meg Monacelli

Monday morning the day after the Super Bowl, and all of Colorado is either in mourning (and some in hiding) or proudly sporting that bright orange and royal blue duo as if their support was somehow critical to the Broncos winning. And CSU follows suit, either looking like an orange highlighter or a ghost town. College students stuffed their faces with wings, chips and cookies, and washed it down with beer while crowding around a TV to “watch” (more like shout, jump, bad-mouth disagreeable ref calls and randomly fist-pump) the big game. And who could forget about the commercials in all their glory? (What about that Budweiser commercial, eh?)

I get it. It’s fun to rally behind a team and congregate with other fans to support a common goal (even if some of those fans are bandwagoners, but I won’t get in the middle of that heated debate). However, I want to shed light onto something a little more controversial and serious and reveal the ugly side of the Super Bowl.

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While you were watching the game and having a grand old time, thousands of women and young girls were forced to work as prostitutes in and around East Rutherford, N.J. According to the New York Times, and wife of former presidential candidate and humanitarian, Cindy McCain, the Super Bowl is “the largest human trafficking event on the planet.”

For victims of human sex trafficking, many of whom are young teens with the average age of girls entering the sex-trade industry in the U.S. at 12-14 years old, the Super Bowl brought repeated rapes and a quota of 25-50 customers to service in a single night, according to International Business Times.

Statistics and exact numbers are hard to gather because the majority of the sex-trade industry is underground, unknown and unreported, but according to The Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking, an estimated 10,000 women and young girls were trafficked and exploited for sex in Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl. And as if that number doesn’t convince you that this is a real problem happening right under our noses, the sex-trade industry generates $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. and $32 billion worldwide, according to the Huffington Post.

It’s easy to think that this issue is a world away. We go about our daily lives — class, work, club meetings, study groups, etc. — without thinking about this issue. The reality is, however, that we need not look farther than our own back porch to find it. Last year alone, three Fort Collins massage parlors were shut down due to allegations of prostitution and human sex trafficking, according to the Collegian.

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about enjoying (or not) watching the Super Bowl or going about your busy life without this issue at the forefront of your mind. I don’t want to simply throw numbers and information at you in an attempt to get you involved in some charity or organization. I won’t ask you to donate time, money, or resources. It’s an overwhelming, complex, multi-faceted, global issue that does not have a simple or single solution. I realize this and I, myself, am often overcome with helplessness. You might be thinking, “What can I really do to make any sort of difference?” or even, “Why should I care?”

And I would challenge you to this simple action: Be conscientious. Don’t be naïve.

In my experience, most college students are unaware of this harsh and ugly underbelly of not only mass sporting events, but also of our culture. Forced prostitution and sex trafficking aren’t just rampant in Cambodian brothels and inner city Atlanta. It isn’t an inevitable tragedy of poor girls living on the streets. It’s happening down the street, literally, and our sisters, brothers, moms, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews are increasingly becoming victims of the horrific crime. I ask you to please not see the numbers as just numbers. Real people’s lives are being snatched from them by the dark forces of abuse, pain and slavery.

We are a community and we pride ourselves on “Rams taking care of Rams.” Let’s not ignore members of our local, national and global community by being unaware of their plight and reality. Educating yourself might just be the best first step you can take in combating and fighting the exploitation of innocent human lives.

Meg Monacelli prides herself on not being naive, and encourages you to do the same. Feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

In Brief:

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There are ugly sides to the Super Bowl, we need to keep that in mind

Sex trafficking is a local issue, as much as we would like to think otherwise

Be conscientious and refuse to be naive