With the Super Bowl in Minneapolis this year, many people are planning parties and finding time to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, there’s a common refrain, repeated every year in every city that hosts the Super Bowl: “This event comes with the highest rate of human trafficking.” Neither the statistics nor anecdotal evidence confirms this to be true, but don’t take that to mean you can breathe easy; the truth is that human trafficking increases during any large event, including—but not limited to—the Super Bowl, regular sporting events, trade conventions, and even normal holiday weekends, according to a recent article in the Pioneer Press. While the Super Bowl is a prime time to bring attention to an issue that’s swept under the rug all too often (and disproportionately affects women of color and women living in poverty), it’s up to us to prevent human trafficking all year round.
While trafficking is a nationwide (and worldwide) problem, Minnesotans, in particular, must be constantly vigilant. As of 2015, MN had the 3rd-largest rate of human trafficking in the nation. Any major city in Minnesota, whether it be Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Saint Cloud, or others, can be a hub for human trafficking, and it’s important to be mindful that this problem exists outside just the Twin Cities. Even when getting from Point A to Point B, whether it be on the roads, in the air, or on the water, it’s necessary to be on the lookout for trafficking in progress, and in doing so you can support MnDOT's initiative to end human trafficking.
It’s also important to remember that not all victims of human trafficking engage in sex work, and that not all sex workers are victims of human trafficking. Sex workers are all too often penalized unnecessarily in the pursuit of stopping human trafficking, and as supporters of women, we must be mindful to make sure our activism and vigilance does not propagate harmful stigmas against victims or those mistakenly assumed to be victims.
Countless resources exist to educate people on spotting the signs of human trafficking, but the Department of State has a great list of advice, warning signs, strategies, and more. Shelters and women’s resources such as Voice of East African Women are all fighting to end human trafficking as well as to provide material and emotional support for human trafficking victims. If you would like to donate to support Voices of East African Women or learn more about our programs, please contact us or click the “donate” button at the top of this page.
Department of State: https://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/index.htm