The Unofficial Gopher Guide to Sex Trafficking at the Super Bowl

You’ve probably noticed by now from all the events, concerts, and energy on campus and around Minneapolis that the Super Bowl is this Sunday. Even though we were so close to being able to watch our beloved Vikings play for the big game, it’s still exciting to be able to host one of the biggest days in American culture. You’ve also probably noticed the topic of sex trafficking is much more prevalent than usual.

While the sex trafficking industry doesn’t take a break during any other day of the year, when you’re living in a city that’s expected to host an extra one million people that will be spending a lot more money than usual and drinking a lot more than usual, it doesn’t hurt to take extra caution. If you decide to go out and about this weekend, here are a few reminders on how to stay safe:

Use the buddy system.

At all times, especially if you came with a big group. If you don’t already pee in the same stall together, WYD?

Always keep an eye and a hand on your drink.

Make sure you watch the bartender prepare your drink as well. When you’re chatting, hold your glass with your hand covering the top.

Keep essentials in your purse.

It’s always a good idea to carry pepper spray, and always bring your keys even if you’re with a roommate who brought theirs. Also make sure you have a few dollars stashed away on your person, either stuffed in your bra or in your pocket.

Make sure you have important numbers memorized.

With cell phones always within an arm’s reach, there’s less of a necessity to memorize phone numbers. However, in the event you lose your phone and you end up alone, you’ll be glad you did.

Know where you’ll be sleeping that night.

If you’re someone who enjoys the rush of a one-night stand, make sure it’s at your place tonight.

Know basic self-defense.

Like Sandra Bullock said in Miss Congeniality, S.I.N.G.

Hopefully you already do these on any other night. Typically sex traffickers don’t target people who are out on the night with their friends, since trafficking victims are usually from low-income or abusive households and are lured by traffickers with promise for money or a better life. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn't take precaution.

 

Something to also keep an eye out for is the women around you. Victims tend to have tell-tale signs of being part of the sex trafficking industry. They might be overdressed for the event or bar you’re at, or wearing clothes that don’t look like the right size. They typically won’t chat with people around them, or even those they’re with. When spoken to, their responses might sound scripted, or a man with them might speak for them instead, possibly because they don’t know english. They might have a tattoo of something the nature of a barcode, “daddy,” or a guy’s name. They might have little to no personal belongings. Apart from a timid or dazed demeanor, they might generally look unhealthy.

If you decide that someone you encounter strikes you as a possible victim, notify the local police, or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Do not speak with the victim themselves. Trying to remove them from the situation yourself could put you in harm’s way.

In 2016 it was estimated that 57,000 people in the United States were victims of sex trafficking. Do your part to end it here.