A Super Bowl host city must prepare for a rise in tourism, and even more so, for an increased number of sex-trafficking victims.
With the big game just over a week away and the NFL Experience driving in crowds beginning tomorrow, Catholic Charities is preparing to serve any sex-trafficked victim arrested by local police. Victims arrested in the City of Phoenix are offered a pathway out of the lifestyle.
They can serve jail time or attend a prostitution diversion program created by Catholic Charities. Its Dignity diversion program has an 86 percent success rate in its 30-year history. The women receive emotional support, counseling, addiction recovery, education, life-skills building and job placement assistance to help survivors live free of prostitution.
Some 915 lives were touched by the diversion program in the last year alone. Dr. Jon McCaine, clinical psychologist and consultant for the diversion program, has been working with victims of sex trafficking for more than 20 years. He has seen its damaging effects on communities and believes that Super Bowl sex transactions will occur in quiet neighborhoods in leased homes to visitors.
“We live in a culture of excess, and the supply and demand for sex will be high,” McCaine said, noting that Arizona’s estimated 100,000 visitors will likely bring an excess of money. “People who are controlling sex-trafficked women are opportunistic. The Super Bowl is a perfect time for these people to make money by selling sex.”
It’s a myth that most sex trafficking victims choose their path. Many are tricked or lured into it and then are too afraid to escape.
“Most come from extreme abuse situations and the women are desperate. They have limited options and at that point morality becomes a luxury. Women turn on survival mode,” McCaine said.
Those who do escape and graduate from the Dignity program save tax-payer dollars by avoiding re-arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Some then spend their lives helping others escape the lifestyle. Read Catherine’s story.
Sex trafficking is only one form of it. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Learn more:
- What sex-trafficked survivors experience
- Leaving street life for student life
- Road to recovery
- Prayer service
- Stop trafficking newsletter
- Hope House