Child sex trafficking at the World Cup is an issue that has gained attention in the media as the sporting event has continued in Brazil. Child sex trafficking at sporting events, or “sex tourism” has been a problem surrounding large sporting events and the tourists that go along with them. The case studies below depict examples of the correlation between occurrences of major sporting events and the flourishing of an illegal multibillion-dollar business.
Child Sex Trafficking at the World Cup Brazil 2014, Rio 2016 Olympics
According to the State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, Brazil is a large source of and destination for child sex trafficking, with child sex tourism remaining a problem in resort and coastal areas.
With Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, it is imperative that the Brazilian government take a stand and remain on high alert during the World Cup and Rio Olympic events. However, the government faces major difficulties in their fight — including an uneven distribution of child trafficking prevention resources between states, and the alleged involvement of officials such as mayors, police officers and members of Congress, reported to be involved in child trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
According to the aforementioned Trafficking in Persons Report, Brazil’s National Council of Justice found that judges, “repeatedly and purposefully delayed the investigation of the mayor of one of the largest cities in the [Amazonas] state for operating a child sex trafficking ring.”
In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime reports that Brazilian authorities continue to promote awareness campaigns during large tourist events such as the Carnival season and the 2014 World Cup, and are distributing campaign posters like the one depicted below:
Preventing Child Sex Tourism at the Masters
These instances of heightened supply and demand for sex tourism are not limited to Brazil. In 2014, one of the United States’ oldest and most prestigious sporting events, the Masters, sparked a large child sex trafficking sting that saved three child victims of child sex trafficking, and arrested five traffickers, pimps and johns.
The undercover sting was the work of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, which has targeted large sporting events, like the Masters and the NCAA Final Four, because an increase in sports fans also brings an increase in illegal activity in the sex trade. Recently, one of the largest backdrops that creates a demand that pimps and traffickers capitalize on to exploit children is the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl: Stop Child Sex Trafficking at Sporting Events
Law enforcement officials have long targeted the Super Bowl as a focal point for sex trafficking. While many visitors go to the Super Bowl to watch the best football teams play, others are travelling to the area to capitalize on the surge in sex tourism.
In 2014, the FBI rescued 16 children in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The children’s pimps and traffickers admitted to having forced their victims to come to the New York City area from 13 states across the country.
In a 2014 report on sex trafficking demand during the Super Bowl, Arizona State University conducted research that identified distinct victim movement and marketing trends that tended to correspond with the build up towards the Super Bowl. Researchers also suggested recommendations for prevention in the future, including the creation of national training for law enforcement specific to the complexities of detecting and investigating sex trafficking. The full report can be read here.
Educate yourself about the warning signs for children at risk for child sex trafficking and learn about the tools available to help you act if you see a questionable situation.
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