SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Feb. 12 Super Bowl “sadly serves as a danger zone for sex trafficking, labor trafficking and domestic violence,” said the executive director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, based in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring.
“An unfortunate reality is that the Super Bowl is just one example. Sex trafficking can be found surrounding most large events and can be found any day of the year,” said Fran Eskin-Royer.
“As hard as it is to believe, 27-and-a-half million people around the world are being trafficked and an additional 22 million women and girls are living in forced ‘marriages,'” she said in a statement released Feb. 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of human trafficking survivors who was trafficked as a child.
In a news release accompanying Eskin-Royer’s statement, the National Advocacy Center said the feast day and the “iconic” Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles following it a few days later in Glendale, Arizona, “remind us that 365 days a year there are men and women, boys and girls being trafficked and being abused. They are being sold for slave labor or for sex. They are being beaten or abused in their own homes.”
“No, the Super Bowl itself is not at fault,” said Eskin-Royer, “but like St. Bakhita’s feast day, we remember the survivors and the victims of sex trafficking, labor trafficking and domestic violence. We cannot close our eyes the other days of the year.”
“Our resolve to end these scourges deepens. Persons are not commodities or punching bags. Each one of us is precious beyond measure and deserving of respect and freedom,” she added.
According to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, the most frequently documented forced labor industry sectors are agriculture/horticulture, construction, garments/textiles under sweatshop conditions, catering/restaurants, domestic work, entertainment/the sex industry. Human trafficking also affects food processing, health care and contract cleaning.
“As Americans cheer, boo and gorge during the Super Bowl with friends and family, I hope they also take time to consider the forced labor that undoubtedly was involved in the production of their tortilla chips, chocolate or battered fish,” said Eskin-Royer.
The Big Game also “offers us an opportunity to remember those impacted by domestic violence often hidden behind closed doors,” she added. “Don’t turn a blind eye to the dangers a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor is living in.”
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NOTES: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “Start” to 88788 to reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline.