A year ago when Jim Waring, the vice mayor of Phoenix, spoke at The Scarlet Cord Exhibit opening during the 2015 Super Bowl, he had a message for the buyers of sex: “We are coming after you.” Listening to the vice mayor, I felt like I was on the set of a Batman movie.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 100,000 children are sold within the commercial sex trade in America each year. Wherever thousands of people pour into athletic or other large events—like the Super Bowl—the risk of trafficking increases.
Last year The Scarlet Cord exhibit was located on a vacant lot in downtown Phoenix during the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl, offering hope and healing to the sexually wounded and curious. During the two-week exhibit, we spoke to students, professionals, vagrants, tourists, and trafficked women.
Here are some of the Phoenix visitors’ responses to The Scarlet Cord:
- One woman said she was trafficked while her father was wearing the coveted Super Bowl ring.
- A young girl sat on the curb—holding her head in her hands—crying out, “I know what it is. I know what it is.”
- A seasoned Phoenix news anchor said, “I did not realize the extent of the problem when I went out there; you can’t walk away without having an impact.”
Shared Hope International reports that “underage sex workers average 6,000 clients over the course of five years, and are typically instructed to serve between 10 and 15 clients per night. However, reports confirm that girls have served as many as 45 clients in a day during peak demand times, which includes major sports events.”
The 2016 Super Bowl is only days away. Will San Francisco, like Gotham, rig up the search lights in the sky—an “SOS”—calling for justice in the war against commercial sex trafficking? We need national leaders and concerned citizens who will stand for the protection of our nation’s most vulnerable—our children.
Visit the Do 1 Thing Challenge page to learn about seven red flags that may indicate a young person is being groom or targeted for trafficking. Find out more about The Scarlet Cord Exhibit and Film to schedule an event or to better understand the issue of sex trafficking—the dark world of Gotham—that exists in our communities. We may not be able to save the thousands of children that will be trafficked this year at the Super Bowl, but we can offer love and hope to one at-risk child within our circle of influence.
StreetLightUSA sponsored The Scarlet Cord in Phoenix, AZ
IMAGE: Targeted, Pamela Alderman, 21 x 62 inches, Mixed media, 2016
The work called Targeted—portraying a child, a bull’s eye, and a roll of film—pictures how children are the ones left harmed by pornography. Not only does the industry deliberately prey on children to ensnare younger and younger viewers, but according to Shared Hope International, one out of every five pornographic images is of a child.