As fans gather together to Dallas for this weekend's Super Bowl, the championship games of NFL, young girls are forcibly brought into the city to participate in a game that has nothing to do with American football. Child sex trafficking is a modern form of slavery involving money selling girls and young women who have been forced into prostitution.
Police and women's groups have joined together to clamp down on what they fear will be rampant sex trafficking, a modern form of slavery involving pimps selling girls and young women who have been coerced into prostitution.
Dallas Cowboy Jay Ratliff joined the campaign by starring in a public service announcement ahead of Sunday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
"If you're one of these men buying these young girls, I'm telling you that real men don't buy children. They don't buy sex," Ratliff says in the announcement.
Dallas police aren't sure how many sex traffickers will be among the estimated 150,000 visitors set to arrive here, but they expect enough to warrant beefing up security.
"We're bringing in extra vice. And undercover officers will be scattered in different hotels looking for trafficking activity," said Dallas police spokesperson Kevin Jansen.
The police department in Arlington, where the Cowboys Stadium is located, created a "Dear John" billboard campaign with mug shots of men convicted of buying sex and a warning that says "This could be you."
Super Bowl host cities have always had to contend with pimps coming in to profit from the crowds drawn by the game. Last year in Miami, the event drew as many as 10,000 prostitutes, including minors, according to police.
Women and church groups have formed coalitions with Traffick 911, a Texas organization that launched the "I'm Not Buying It" campaign for Super Bowl 45.
Using the Internet, street teams and the media, they have saturated hotels, restaurants and neighborhoods with information aiming to deter the traffickers.
"We have groups going all over Northeast Texas trying to raise awareness," said Deena Graves, director of Traffick 911, which is based in Fort Worth.
Many of the children forced into the sex trade are runaways from within the United States, but large numbers of young women forced into prostitution are from other, often poor countries.
Victims are often as young as 12 to 14 years old and their average life expectancy in the dangerous world of human trafficking is just seven years, Graves said.
Violence, forced drug use, coercion and threats are methods that pimps and traffickers use to assure the victims' submission.
Flight attendants and other airline personnel are hoping to stop traffickers and the women they force into prostitution from coming in before they even land.
On Monday they attended a pre-Super Bowl training at Dallas Fort Worth Airport sponsored by Airline Ambassadors, a humanitarian group of flight attendants.
The training is designed to prepare flight staff to recognize the warning signs of trafficking and how to take proper security measures if they meet suspicious situations, said Nancy Rivard, executive director of the group.
"There was a lot of intensive information shared. It was a good start," Rivard told AFP.
Even before the training their group has succeeded in identifying four trafficking victims on three airlines and rescuing a girl being smuggled from Cambodia, she said.
Now they are focusing on educating airline personnel about the warning signs, security measures and human rights issues related to human trafficking.
Not all sex trafficking victims are bought in from out of state, with many recruited in the host cities.
Low income, high crime neighborhoods are magnets for sex traffickers seeking vulnerable women and children to exploit, police say.
And in a bid to stop the traffic, local church members spent Saturday handing out informational brochures at an apartment complex of largely immigrant residents in a low-income neighborhood in Northeast Dallas.
"I was a little nervous about knocking on doors, but I felt people needed to know about this," said Amber Simpson, who coordinated the team that visited more than 100 apartments.
Steps are also being been taken to find out how many young girls in Texas are victims of sex trafficking, and the Dallas Women's Foundation commissioned a study released last month.
It revealed that nearly 800 girls under 18 were sold for sex in Texas either online or through escort services during a one-month period in November 2010.