Is the sex trafficking increase during the Super Bowl an urban myth?

I’ve seen numerous posts on facebook the past few days that there will be a record increase in sex trafficking during the Super Bowl this year. This screams urban myth to me like the record increase in violence against women during the Super Bowl urban myth from a few years ago.

I deplore sex trafficking, but I’m not buying this story. I don’t see anything on Snopes yet.

I started a thread on this a while back. Some people brought up the point that any big event with lots of out of towners/full hotels will attract prostitution. Here’s the thread.

Here is what the Dallas Observer had to say about it recently.

Short answer: Yes, it is a myth.

‘Sex trafficking’ is a loaded term. Levitt and Dubner’s *Superfreakonomics *provides evidence that many women who would otherwise not be engaged in sex work do so over the Independence Day holiday, presumably because the tradition of family reunions brings in an influx of new customers. By and large these women are not ‘trafficked in’, though. They see an economic incentive, they respond to it, then return to their normal lives and occupations when it’s gone.

Even 5000 per year is much too high? Was this some kind of typo?

One of your points may be that criminalizing voluntary prostitution just increases the demand for forced prostitution, and this may be a good point.

But to think forced prostitution is only a minor problem is flat-out wrong. I won’t try to find as many cites as you did; Here’s one of the first that shows up in a Google search. You can call my evidence “anecdotal” but I’ve read of, heard of, and even in a few cases seen with my own eyes, forced prostitution. I read a newspaper story about girls in Thailand dying in a fire because they were shackled to their beds. I know people whose 17-year old daughters disappeared, never to be seen again. I met a woman claiming to be such a girl, who’d escaped.

But those are the exceptions. In most “forced prostitution” no shackles or locked doors are required. Family debts, threats against relatives, drug addiction, illegal immigration status are ways a slave can be compelled without shackles or armed guards.

I’ll agree that a large majority of prostitutes are more-or-less operating voluntarily. But, although I offer no statistics, only anecdotes and hearsay, I am certain that the numbers on forced prostitution are much higher than you imply.

To clarify, the post above is quoting a spam post that has since been deleted.

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I am familiar with that story of the shackled prostitutes being killed in a fire. The reason that it keeps making the rounds is that it seems to be the only one on record. The reason they were shackled was they serviced the lowest of the low, the 100-baht-a-day manual laborers. I may have come across one other such tale in all my years here but cannot be sure. Such situations here seem to be very rare. I’m not saying it’s not a problem in the world, but the West thinks it’s the norm in Thailand, and that’s simply not true.

I have a hard time believing this article. It mentions that :

“The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age being 11.”
I’m unwilling to believe that so many teens, especially 9-11 yo (who would need to account for a large part if the average age were indeed 11), would be trafficked for sex purposes without it being quite obvious and known by about everybody. I’d suspect the USA would be known as a major destination for sex tourism if it were true.

Why would they shackle the ones servicing the laborers but not the other ones?

Union rules?

The other ones are pretty much free agents, servicing whomever they want. Believe me, one of the biggest headache of the bar owners I know is keeping the girls from quitting. Piss off the mamasan – the lady in charge of the girls and often a mother figure – enough to make her quit, and it’s not unusual for most of the girls to quit too and follow her to the next place. These in this one incident were forced to service some really creepy dregs of society, people no one in their right mind would go with voluntarily. But again, the reason it’s gotten so much play all these years is because it’s an exception, surprising even the locals. That’s just not an everyday occurrence.

A Google search throws up a lot of references to that statistic, but no link to any official source. I agree it should be taken with caution. On a few occasions I’ve tracked down similarly rehashed statistics to their source, only to find out that they were misreadings of the actual data (for example, an Interpol stat on 40,000 Baltic prostitutes visiting Finland each year is often cited as 40,000 sex trafficking victims in Finland).

I would believe this stat if it referred to trafficking victims generally, not just sex trafficking victims. The US has issues with child slave labour in sweatshops, agriculture and in the domestic sector. Undoubtedly there is some child sex trafficking as well. I could easily see it all adding up to 100,000. But again, we need to see the actual source.

This is not in disagreement with what I wrote:

It is very wrong to pretend that most prostitutes in Thailand are fully under duress. But it is also wrong to pretend that almost all are fully voluntary.

Since I’m fluent in spoken and written Thai, I’ve had a variety of communication with people in Thailand, especially with women in Pattaya. I won’t try to summarize all talks but I frequently heard “Do you think I’d have this job if I had a choice?” even from women working “voluntarily.”

But please don’t pretend I’m generalizing now. There certainly are “happy hookers” working in Thailand! :smiley:

Do you disbelieve the FBI, or disbelieve they are being quoted correctly? In either case I didn’t link to the article for the “100,000” victims, but for just two: “Debbie” and Miya. We all seem to agree that the large figures bandied about have no clear substantiation, but do you disbelieve Debbie and Miya? One can find many more stories. I’ve enough first-hand knowledge to think numbers, guessed by extrapolation, must be large.

BTW, if you read that article to the end, were you as surprised as I to note that Miya’s abductor will apparently not be prosecuted for her abduction because she was already 19 years old?

(PS: I was slightly surprised to see I’d misspelled “Google” and then noted you’d edited the text inside the Septimus quote for effect! :dubious: )

I’m picturing, on Superbowl day, vans full of little girls being shuttled around the suburbs, doorbells being rung, prices thrashed out with a pimp for services rendered. As if the burping, farting assholes planted on the couch swilling pizza/wings/beer, aren’t having a good enough time! Women better stay home from girls-superbowl- day-out and keep an eye out for those travelling vans full of enforced prostituted children.

I disbelieve the figures. I’ve no opinion about whether the FBI is wrong or misquoted.

No, I’ve no reason to.

I read it to the end but in fact hadn’t realized that. I was puzzled by the two mentions towards the end of the article about the prosecution being related to the abduction of a(n apparently different) 17 yo.
However, if he’s not prosecuted in the case of the 19 yo, since arbitrary detention, pimping, rape, etc… are all prosecutable, whether the victim is underage or not, I guess there has to be more to the story than what is stated in the article. Because on the basis of the content of the article only, I can’t see any way the perpetrator could gat away with it.

Well, in fact, yesterday, I was trying to find a spell-checker that would work the way I would want it to work (I’ve currently no spell checker), so I tried one in some posts, and I do remember having corrected a mispelled “google”, but didn’t even realize it was in the text I was quoting (as opposed to my own post). That definitely wasn’t for effect.
(Actually, in French, I often correct the spelling in quotes. Not for effect but because I don’t see a reason to leave a spelling mistake in a text. I wouldn’t do that in an english text, however, for the obvious reason that I’m not really in a position to correct other people’s English)
ETA : I now notice upon rereading that you wrote google correctly and that I in fact added a spelling mistake.

No, I was not trying to disagree with what you wrote. I will say that many of the prostitutes do have other jobs and are part-timers in the profession, while others could find alternate employment – if they fancied working 12-18 hours a day, 6-7 days a week in a factory for a a couple hundred bucks a month or less.

The topic has been popping up a lot lately, so much so that it’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day. I wrote extensively on the scene as it exists in Thailand in this thread. There’s not much more I can add that I didn’t cover there.

I don’t want to engage in interminable debate either, but prostitution in Thailand is not limited to the Farung customers of Pattaya, lower Sukhumwit, etc. which is all you discussed.

Just today, the Google News home page mentions a police bust in Chiang Mai of a gang marketing 13-15 year old Hill Tribe girls. Yes, there’s a gray area between forced and voluntary prostitution, but if the girl is only 15, it should always be considered forced.

Deleted - I misread.

I’d be willing to believe that average age that girls start prostitution is 11 - but not that the average teen prostitute is 11. Most street kids first time on the street is at 11, and anywhere where there are street kids, there are pimps ready to take advantage of them.

When I was a street kid, I knew girls as young as 11 who worked the streets, I remember hitchhiking to another city to help a 13 year old get away from her pimp.

And pimps do kidnap girls for special events - I was almost kidnapped once, and two friends of mine were kidnapped for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. As street kids, nobody knew where we were already, so one more layer of missing as in kidnapped would go unnoticed.

Most of the time it seems the police have a guess that the girl may be under age, but the girl uses a fake name & age and the police blame the girl for her troubles anyway - so nothing is done about it. It seems the police don’t really care because the kids selling their bodies aren’t the good kids anyhow.

It makes things easy for the pimps that most of the girls who are street kids come from bad home lives, sexual abuse, foster care, and can easily mistake any attention
for affection.

Outside nearly every youth shelter & drop in center for homeless kids stands a pimp looking for new workers and when you’ve been hungry from trying to panhandle and not making any money for something as “unimportant as sex”, it can be tempting.

When 5 or more times a day when begging for change, someone offers you cash for sexual favors - it gets more & more tempting all the time.

There are people everywhere who are ready, willing and able to exploit an abused child on the street (including police, who will ask for a “favor” in return for not taking you in).

Although I got off the streets ages ago, I know all that has changed, is now the pimps sell their wares online instead of on the streets.

So - yes - I do believe that in North America there are thousands exploited underage girls.

Considering how many I knew & the populations of the places I lived - my guess is there are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 exploited and underage prostitutes in North America. Some as young as 9 is believable too considering how many 11, 12 and 13 year olds I knew, and that there are news items about sex dungeons where young girls are forced to work. And that more are trafficked during special events is a given.

This is not to say that there isn’t adult sex workers who are completely in control of their bodies and decisions who choose to work as a sex worker. I know adult women who have chosen to work as escorts and are not exploited at all.

In my opinion, this is why prostitution need to be legal. If it was legal, the police resources could go after the illegal trade (underage & exploited) instead of all the trade.