The Sex Workers Project provides client-centered legal and social services to individuals who engage in sex work, regardless of whether they do so by choice, circumstance, or coercion. One of the first programs in the nation to assist survivors of human trafficking, the Sex Workers Project has pioneered an approach to service grounded in human rights, harm reduction and in the real life experiences of our clients. Our professional service providers are multi-lingual, non-judgmental and bring more than ten years of experience.
As the only US organization meeting the needs of both sex workers and trafficking victims, the Sex Workers Project serves a marginalized community that few others reach. We engage in policy and media advocacy, community education and human rights documentation, working to create a world that is safe for sex workers and where human trafficking does not exist.
Statement from the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center on the Superbowl & Sex Work
While we commend efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking, allegations that large sporting events, like the Super Bowl, increase the number of persons trafficked into prostitution are simply unfounded. Investigations from past Olympics, World Cups, and Super Bowls, have not found large numbers of persons trafficked to these locations by force to engage in commercial sex. These claims can lead to raids and police harassment of sex workers, increasing danger for this population. This is a misuse of scarce resources better aimed at preventing human trafficking and protecting the rights of sex workers.
While it is critically important to understand and tackle the root causes of human trafficking and provide resources to those who are currently in trafficking situations or who are survivors, erroneous links to sporting events are not helpful toward these ends. They also distract from real issues surrounding large sporting events that do deserve our attention and are often under-reported, including instances of unsafe labor conditions for construction workers who build sports arenas, and the large scale trafficking and deaths of migrant workers.
The media’s fixation on trafficking into the sex trade has led to an unfortunate misperceptions about human trafficking, and missed opportunities to halt human rights abuses. We encourage journalists and members of the public to support more just working conditions in all labor sectors where trafficking exists, including restaurants, private homes, landscaping, construction, and agriculture; this will help us recognize and assist victims in need.
Please see these sources:
Trafficking in Human Beings and the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Migration Research Series no. 29 , International Organization for Migration (2007), (stating that
“the estimate of 40,000 women expected to be trafficked [in Germany surrounding the World Cup] was unfounded and unrealistic”).
What’s the Cost of a Rumour? A guide to sorting out the myths and the facts about sporting events and trafficking, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (2011).
Urban Legends and Hoaxes: How Hyperbole Hurts Trafficking Victims, Huffington Post, Rachel Lloyd, (2012), (stating that while
“there have definitely been some reported cases, the statistics just don’t bear out this claim.”).