Super Bowl L (that’s fifty, by the way) is happening next weekend and San Francisco is gearing up to host thousands upon thousands of people for the event. While it is disputed that human trafficking increases during major events like the Super Bowl, it is true that human trafficking is a problem wherever there are large groups of people. Which would include events like the Super Bowl.

And it’s an opportunity to bring the human trafficking conversation to the forefront.

Human trafficking’s staggering $32 billion industry exploits humanity’s most vulnerable: women and children. Many unsuspecting victims are kidnapped or lured into the business and then forced into a wide range of slavery. Technology has made it easier for pimps and traffickers to find and communicate with customers, as well as keep tabs on and control victims. Plane travel and large airport hubs help traffickers blend into the crowd and victims go unnoticed.

Human Trafficking In The Bay Area 

The SF Gate reports that San Francisco was ranked among the top 13 areas in the nation identified by the FBI in 2009 with the highest incidents of child sex trafficking.

Though statistically the Super Bowl does not seem to cause an increase of human trafficking, Bay Area airports and organizations that fight human trafficking will be out in full force this weekend for the Super Bowl. The Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition Founder Betty Ann Boeving Hagenau notes that visitors who come in from out of town are less inhibited because they have little-to-no accountability like they might have in their home town. The Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition is gearing up for the Super Bowl with training for Bay Area residents, university students and business travelers.

And Bay Area advocates and local law enforcement officers aren’t just on duty for human trafficking crimes during the Super Bowl. Just last week, three Bay Area residents were arrested for sex trafficking when a teenager escaped to Mission Police Station for help.

Fighting Human Trafficking

Other national organizations raising awareness and rescuing human trafficking victims are Make It Stop, Women At Risk, International (WAR), The END IT Movement, The A21 Campaign, and The Exodus Road. The Exodus Road was featured in the Summer 2015 issue of Shattered Magazine and tells the moving story of The Exodus Road founders Matt and Laura Parker.

WAR, International is partnering with S.O.A.P., an anti-trafficking organization that places bars of soap labeled with a hotline number in high-risk hotels in San Francisco.

Though the Super Bowl may be a misunderstood cause of a human trafficking surge, human trafficking still exists within our borders and across the globe. We want to be a voice for the stories of human trafficking you may never hear.