With the recent Super Bowl, there has been a significant increase in the concerns about sex trafficking. The increase in concern is obviously well-placed. Sex trafficking is an issue that warrants more attention, and necessitates strong policy to combat. However, the idea that the Super Bowl is the reason for this is largely a myth that has important consequences.
Sex trafficking is a problem that plagues the Twin Cities each and every day. Forgetting that this is a sad truth of life creates a policy issue where resources are dedicated to addressing sex trafficking only during large sporting events. This should not be the case. Resources to combat sex trafficking should be increased throughout the year, not only during events like the Super Bowl.
One of the central hubs for trafficking in Minnesota is the Mall of America. Young, vulnerable girls are often lured in by job offers or promises of a luxurious life. Racial minorities that live in poverty are typically the most targeted by trafficking rings. Pimps, who are typically middle aged men, use multiple tactics to get young women to get in their cars or to meet them within the metro area. And this is happening just in our own backyard. In 2013, the FBI ranked Minnesota 13th for number of sex trafficking cases. This necessitates not only a city-level response, but a state and federal response.
As reported by the Justice Department, there are three main strategies to approaching the problem of sex trafficking — finding traffickers and survivors, ensuring that survivors are given the appropriate resources and representation and providing harsh sentences to traffickers. As Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey begins his new term, we urge he and the City Council to spend more resources on addressing this problem. We also encourage Gov. Mark Dayton and any future hopeful for the gubernatorial office to take decisive stances on the issue, and place policies to aid existing efforts.
The City of Minneapolis as well as the state of Minnesota could provide more financial support and aid to non-profits like “Breaking Free” that help victims of sex trafficking. Furthermore, the city ought to sustain its public awareness efforts that educate people on the issue.
The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has been working to raise awareness about the issue of sex trafficking since Minneapolis was selected to host the Super Bowl in 2014. The foundation is hoping to continue aiding the cause after the Super Bowl leaves Minneapolis. They find that it is important for people to remain informed about the topic, especially when it is a problem of great magnitude within our city.
Everyone should be more vigilant about the issue. If you see something suspicious, ensure that you reach out to the appropriate authorities with information. Airports and other public areas have increased signs and security to encourage the public report to report any suspicious instances. In order to have the most impact, people should always have an eye and an ear out for sex traffickers and survivors.