February 13, 2022
Local and state officials kicked off an anti-human trafficking campaign on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at the Los Angeles International Airport to spread awareness ahead of the Super Bowl — which, like other large events, is susceptible to high levels of human and sex trafficking.
The airport installed signs on its digital screens and in the airport’s 460 restrooms to share resources for people who want to report suspected human trafficking and abuse before, during and after the Super Bowl on Feb. 13.
The efforts are part of the It’s A Penalty campaign, which works to prevent abuse, exploitation and human trafficking worldwide, particularly during large sporting events. The signs feature this year’s It’s A Penalty campaign ambassadors, Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Large events, such as the Super Bowl, can lead to increased instances of human trafficking due to a high influx of visitors,” It’s A Penalty states on its website. “And when it comes to the prevalence of commercial sex industries, California is particularly vulnerable because of its proximity to international borders, number of ports and airports, significant immigrant population and large economy that includes industries that attract forced labor.”
On Tuesday, It’s A Penalty’s CEO Sarah de Carvalho kicked off the campaign at LAX with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, along with representatives of the airport, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, Uber, Airbnb, American Airlines, A21 and the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.
Read the full story by Margaret Shuttleworth on Los Angeles Daily News.
February 7, 2021
Though National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month has ended, Pope Francis, the FBI and the NFL continue to draw attention to this insidious societal problem. But every citizen, business and organization can do more to alleviate this global crisis throughout the year.
Human trafficking is estimated to be a $150 billion industry that profits from 25 million victims worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization. More than 100,000 children are sold for sex in the U.S. each year. Eighty-three percent of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, according to the Polaris 2019 Report.
As a licensed counselor, researcher on domestic abuse and participant in domestic violence committees, including Illinois Religious Women Against Human Trafficking, I see the critical importance of awareness and prevention.
Pope Francis recently wrote in the preface of an autobiography of a trafficking victim:
“Since there are countless young women, victims of trafficking, who end up on the streets of our cities, how much does this reprehensible reality derive from the fact that many men, here, require these ‘services’ and show themselves willing to buy another person, annihilating her in her inalienable dignity?”
Supporting the pope’s vision through advocacy are U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, among many others. They support human trafficking survivors through direct services such as providing shelter, counseling, spiritual support, job placement and educational scholarships.
The upcoming Super Bowl in Tampa will highlight the efforts of the NFL to grapple with human trafficking. Prominent athletes support the It’s A Penalty campaign that has played a role in eight major sporting events. Together with its partners, the organization has facilitated the rescue of almost 17,000 victims of trafficking and exploitation and prevented thousands more from becoming victims.
Read the full article by Helen Lavan on Ms. Magazine
May 3, 2019
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, prosecutors and victim advocates are calling for heightened awareness of human trafficking as Louisville prepares for the Kentucky Derby.
Law enforcement officials say incidents of human trafficking, including bringing in victims from other states, increases when cities host major sporting events.
Beshear joined Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell Monday in Louisville with groups that assist trafficking victims. The attorney general’s office published an online poster to help identify the signs of a human trafficking victim and how to report the crime.
To read the full story on The New York Post: Click Here
February 11, 2019
Bars of soap in hotel rooms might save lives this Super Bowl weekend.
As the eyes of the world watch the action unfolding at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, police, authorities, airlines and hotels are dealing with a sinister problem that tends to arise this time of year: human trafficking activity.
While antislavery groups are cautious to paint Super Bowl as a magnet for sex trafficking — they’re quick to point out it’s a year-round problem — the NFL championship match is often been dubbed the biggest sex trafficking event in the United States, as hundreds of thousands of cashed-up sports fans descend on the host city to celebrate the big game and, in many cases, indulge in sex services that use Super Bowl as their hook.
What’s worse is this year’s host city, Atlanta, is considered one of the biggest hubs of sex trafficking nationwide, according to WTOL News.
Anti-human trafficking groups and authorities have stepped up their efforts to bust sex rings and rescue victims. Posters have been plastered around the city bearing the faces of 16 missing girls feared to be victims of human trafficking.
Atlanta police officers have been given two hours of extra training on how to recognise and deal with human trafficking in the lead-up to Super Bowl weekend, a police spokesman told Reuters.
Police in Georgia have already arrested at least 40 people in relation to sex trafficking over the weekend, and rescued four victims.
And hotel staff and flight attendants — often regarded as the frontline defence against human trafficking — are stepping up their efforts to identify victims.
And this year, hotels have seen an unusual but hopefully effective approach.
Massive deliveries of bars of soap and makeup wipes were dropped off at hotels around Atlanta last weekend bearing a message to potential victims and a phone number to get help.
To read the full story on News.com.au: Click Here
August 13, 2018
As high-profile sports figures descend on Northeast Ohio this week, an 83-year-old nun arrived at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Monday advocating for victims who walk among us hidden in plain sight.
Sister Barbara Catalano, a Dominican Sister of Peace, did not resemble many other visitors clad in shirts and jerseys of their favorite NFL teams. The diminutive woman was dressed casually in white pants and a shirt accented with a purple short-sleeved jacket. She also wore a look of determination, toting a satchel containing anti-human trafficking literature and a bag filled with bars of specially wrapped soap to the Canton football shrine.
“I want to talk with someone important,” said the Akron resident, who had not called ahead to make an appointment with a Hall of Fame executive.
Parked in an auxiliary lot a quarter-mile from the front door, Catalano eschewed a free shuttle ride and walked along a narrow backstreet as cars and golf carts transporting HOF workers zipped past. The nun moved with such pace, bounding down a steep flight of concrete steps, a freelance photographer assigned to chronicle her visit had difficulty keeping up.
She was eager to discuss the evils of the world’s fastest-growing industry. Human trafficking, according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, generated about $99 billion in profits in 2016. And it thrives on the peripheries of major multiday events like the ones being hosted in Canton and Akron this weekend, say some anti-trafficking advocacy groups and law enforcement.
From foreign-born laborers erecting scaffolding for pennies on the dollar to underage girls being forced into prostitution at nearby hotels, human trafficking takes different forms. In the past month, several survivors have told The Athletic nightmarish tales of beatings, gang rape, threats to family members and years of mental anguish associated with a life of sex slavery. Two women began being trafficked at age 15.
To read the full story by Tom Reed on The Athletic Ink: Click Here