Phoenix Police must book alleged johns during Super Bowl festivities

super-bowlThe hype surrounding this Sunday’s Super Bowl game in Phoenix is being outmatched by growing hysteria and Phoenix Police are responding in kind. That hysteria could land a man in jail due to a policy instituted by the Phoenix Police Department on Monday.

The new policy reads:

Effective immediately, any individual who solicits or hires another person to commit an act of prostitution WILL be booked into jail pursuant to Phoenix City Code 23-52(A) (2).

Citing in lieu of detention is NOT an option as it is the purpose of this policy to reduce the demand for prostitution in the City of Phoenix any deviation must have supervisor approval. Phoenix Police Operations Order 4.3 is being revised to reflect this immediate change to policy.

According to a 2011 report by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, “The hype around large sporting events and increases in trafficking for prostitution is often based on misinformation, poor data, and a tendency to sensationalize.”

However, Cindy McCain has spent the past year promoting herself and the seemingly spurious claims that an increase in sex trafficking is linked to the Super Bowl. McCain has enlisted the students at ASU, who repeat what they have been told. “Studies have shown that during major events, including the Super Bowl, there is an increase in prostitution demand. However, many people do not realize that oftentimes, ‘prostitutes’ are actually victims of human trafficking,” said Erin Schulte, co-founder and president of the All Walks Project at Arizona State University, an organization focused on raising awareness of domestic sex trafficking in a statement released Monday.

“With the Super Bowl coming to Arizona, there is a spotlight on how Arizona is responding to domestic sex trafficking,” she added.

According to the press release, Schulte, along with other honors students co-founded All Walks, “a student-led nonprofit dedicated to developing a training curriculum for volunteers to work with survivors of sex trafficking. In addition, All Walks aims to educate college students and the community about the commercial exploitation of women and children that exists in their own backyard” the release reads.

In its report, the Global Alliance Against Traffic note:

There are a number of reasons why an increase in trafficking for prostitution during large sporting events is unlikely:

• Statistically not feasible;
• Short-term events are not likely to be profitable for traffickers or sex workers;
• Large sporting events are not only attended by men; and
• Paid sexual services may not be affordable for most sports visitors.

Despite the lack of evidence, this idea continues to hold great appeal for prostitution abolitionist groups, anti-immigration groups, politicians and some journalists. The resilience of this inaccurate claim could be due to:

• Its usefulness as a fundraising strategy;
• Its effectiveness in grabbing the media and the public’s attention;
• Being a quick, easy way to be seen ‘doing something’ about trafficking;

However just last year the FBI announced that it had rescued 16 juveniles ranging in ages from 13 to 17 years old. The juveniles included high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families. FBI Newark Division Special Agent Barbara Woodruff told that the six children recovered by the Newark Division were found in Atlantic City 14 days prior to the Super Bowl.

Alexander Abad-Santos writes in an article for the Atlantic: “To be clear, sex trafficking is a legitimate issue outside of the convenient Super Bowl news bubble. But again, there’s no evidence that a mass influx of sports fans increases the problem or contributes to it in some way. Ultimately, spreading misinformation can end up undercutting efforts to bring awareness to the very real problem of sex trafficking and forced prostitution. Focusing only on the Super Bowl and quick fixes like ramped up police patrol, doesn’t address the bigger, ongoing problem of sex exploitation.”

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