Opinion

'Pimps will be lurking' after the Super Bowl, says New Jersey congressman

|
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,New Jersey,Chris Christie,Super Bowl,Human Rights Watch,Human Trafficking

"Pimps will be lurking" after the Super Bowl, hoping to find guys interested in paying for sex, according to a top House member for human rights work, who also hails from the state that hosts this year's game.

“On game day, I expect that pimps will be lurking at strip clubs, bars, street parties, and behind aliases online looking to surreptitiously cash in on the Super Bowl atmosphere,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., told the Washington Examiner in a statement. Smith, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chairs the subcommittee that oversees global human rights.

“But I also expect New Jersey and New York police, Super Bowl volunteers, hotel and motel employees, taxi drivers, train operators, EMS personnel and fans of good will to be on the lookout for potential victims. The goal should be that this will be the Super Bowl of zero tolerance for human trafficking.”

Pimps and cops have been at work for days. "Nearly 200 arrests for sex trafficking and related crimes have been made in New York in operations leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl," CNN reported Friday.

Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., has made it a priority to catch pimps. "So to anyone out there that is even thinking about [trafficking people]," he tweeted Wednesday. "Don't even try it. We have eyes and ears on the ground and on the web."

That's not just talk. "New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman has put together a task force of experts and survivors of trafficking to canvass communities and advise citizens how to identify victims and their abusers," as Reuters noted last month. "Over the past six months, it has visited hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, bus depots and train stations, to urge employees to be vigilant and alert authorities if they see anything suspicious."

The Reuters report noted that human trafficking isn't all about the sex. Many victims are exploited for other forms of labor — which has already been a problem in connection with the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"Human Rights Watch also documented that employers of construction projects related to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi withheld pay, disregarded contracts, and seized passports and work permits to keep workers in conditions of exploitation," the State Department noted in its 2013 report on human trafficking.

The problem is exacerbated by the corruption of Russian law enforcement and the fact that the Russian government doesn't make it a priority to crack down on trafficking.

"There is anecdotal evidence of Russian police officers allegedly facilitating trafficking, including by returning trafficking victims to their exploiters, and of employers bribing Russian officials to avoid enforcement of penalties for engaging illegal workers," the report said.

The State Department classifies Russia as a "Tier 3" country with respect to human trafficking — the worst rating a country can have, which bodes badly for sex trafficking at the games, beginning Thursday.

"Reports of Russian women and children subjected to sex trafficking both in Russia and abroad continued in 2012," the State Department report found. "Russian citizens are reportedly victims of sex trafficking in many countries, including in Northeast Asia, Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. There were also reports of citizens of European, African, and Central Asian countries being forced into prostitution in Russia."

View article comments Leave a comment