The Super Bowl Trafficking Connection: Fact? Fiction? Something In Between?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was raised partly in the Middle East, partly in India, and now live in the DC-metro region – all three major transit and destination points in the global human trafficking trade. So I come to the subject of trafficking and sex slavery with more passion than skepticism. Also, Rev. Lia Scholl, the author of “I Heart Sex Workers” is a very dear friend, the kind I consider family, and we remain professional sounding boards for one another.

There’s a shocking statistic going viral right now, the one that says: “There are between 100,000 and 150,000 underage sex workers currently active in the US.”

Except, I would submit that the problem has less to do with the Super Bowl than any situation where men are present in overwhelmingly large numbers – yes, women hire sex workers too, but let’s get real, it’s largely men. The corollary for women comes into play when you expand trafficking from sex slavery to indentured servitude and migrant labor. But I digress….

Susan Elizabeth Shepard questions the Super Bowl statistic, as have many others, and if you care about the issue of sex slavery, I urge you to read it as she makes some really good points – how that Super Bowl number came about; how it doesn’t hold up well to serious analysis; how it’s a really tough set of data to scientifically prove; and oh yes, the difference between sex and rape.

Unfortunately, it’s a long read on a deeply complicated subject, one with no clear, easily sound-byted answers, and no immediate marketing hook. Which is why it likely to get far less attention this weekend. [Read more…]