- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 1, 2020

Not to be a killjoy — but this Sunday, as San Francisco and Kansas City battle in Miami for Super Bowl LIV’s coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy, untold numbers of American girls will be sold at the price of $300 an hour or so to sleazy sex trafficker customers.

Welcome to the seedy not-so-underground side of celebrity-size sporting events.

“Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez has teamed up with the NFL as part of the ‘Stop Sex Trafficking Campaign,’ ” NewsRadio WFLA reported on the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking website. “It will educate the public on signs [of] potential trafficking with visual materials. The NFL, law enforcement, and government agencies as well as over 300 state and local businesses, have joined forces for this campaign.”

Airline flight attendants have been trained to spot suspicious passengers.

Hotel staffers have been put on notice to watch for suspicious behavior.

Taxi cabbers and rideshare drivers have been tipped to look for suspicious customers.

In Atlanta, in the 11 days leading up to last year’s Super Bowl, police arrested 169 on trafficking charges — including 34 who were trying to engage in sexual acts with minors, the FBI reported.

It’s something to think about at halftime. And not all trafficking is sexual in nature; human trafficking involves forced labor — enslavement — as well.

The International Labour Organization reports an estimated 403 million victims of human trafficking around the world.

Of that, 25 percent are children, Forgotten Children Worldwide reports.

The Department of Defense reports human trafficking is on the increase, not decrease — that it’s in fact the fastest-growing crime in the world.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and operated by the nongovernmental agency, Polaris, has identified more than 47,000 separate cases of human trafficking in the United States alone, since 2007.

Freedom 9 Project reports that 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year — 81% of whom are exploited for sexual purposes.

The numbers are tough to nail, though.

“Human trafficking is notoriously underreported,” the Polaris Project reported.

But, there has been a “25 percent jump in cases of human trafficking” between 2017 and 2018, Polaris found. And the largest caseload by far came in the form of sex trafficking through escort services and massage parlors.

It’s the minors who pull at heartstrings the hardest.

Nothing says sad and sorry like a minor-age child being exploited and enslaved for labor or sex.

Nothing says shocking like this: The top three nations of origin for victims of human trafficking — both labor and sex — were, in 2018, according to the State Department, the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.

“The United States is the number one consumer of sex worldwide,” said Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, in Fox News. “So we are driving the demand as a society.”

That’s America’s reputation?

“The Super Bowl is a magnet for sex-trafficking,” the Miami Herald reported.

And that’s part of the Super Bowl’s reputation, as well.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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