The Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in the world. The commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year and the most popular singers and musicians have performed during the half time show in the past. However, the Super Bowl does not only attract its fans and viewers but also traffickers. The Super Bowl is known as “the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States,” as Attorney General Greg Abbott in 2011. According to Forbes, 10,000 prostitutes were brought to in 2010 and 133 underage arrests for prostitution were made in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl. This year was no exception. A multi-agency task force arrested 85 people during the week leading up to the Super Bowl XLVII held on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans.
Many mistakenly conceive that the human trafficking is only an international issue. However, the estimation of the number of victims provided by the United States State Department suggests that the domestic trafficking of the United States is a legitimate concern. According to the State Department, between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the U.S. from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe, and many more are trafficked domestically within the United States each year.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex, debt bondage, or forced labor. More specifically, in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), the Congress defines sex trafficking “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”
At the federal level, the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude protects the victims of human trafficking. In United States v. Kozminski, the 1988 United States Supreme Court Case, the Court considered whether involuntary servitude included psychological coercion within the definition of involuntary servitude but ultimately held that it did not. However, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act enacted in 2000 expanded the definition of coercion to include psychological coercion. Later, Congress expanded the TVPA by allowing victims to pursue a civil action against traffickers, relaxing the definition of human trafficking and providing rehabilitative facilities for victims.
One legal scholar emphasizes that the state level anti-trafficking legislation can prevent trafficking more effectively than the federal statutory provisions mainly for three reasons. In Our Backyard Slave Trade: the Result of Ohio’s Failure to Enact Comprehensive State-Level Human-Sex-Trafficking Legislation, Rocha argues that lengthy and exhaustive federal investigations often fail to prosecute traffickers. She further states that because criminal law is a state police power, individual states must design their own anti-trafficking legislation to address the needs of victims within their borders. Lastly, she argues that states can enforce anti-trafficking laws effectively by training local law enforcement officers who are much more likely to encounter victims than federal officers.
According to the studies done by Polaris Project, compared to 2007 when only twenty-eight states had anti-trafficking criminal statutes, as of July 31, 2012, forty-eight states, including the District of Columbia, have enacted anti-trafficking criminal statutes with sex trafficking offenses. This improvement suggests that many states are responding to the growing concern of the domestic human trafficking. However, some states such as Wyoming, have yet to pass any human trafficking law. Because the number of human trafficking victims is only growing every year, proper measures must be taken to eliminate it. I believe that trafficking cannot be eliminated only by criminal enforcements. In addition to effective criminal enforcements, federal and state governments must offer social services and develop public awareness programs.
Blogger, Criminal Law Brief
 Priscila A. Rocha, Our Backyard Slave Trade: the Result of Ohio’s Failure to Enact Comprehensive State-Level Human-Sex-Trafficking Legislation.