1 Feb 2011

Superbowl a magnet for under-age sex trade

12:31 pm on 1 February 2011

Pimps will traffic thousands of under-age prostitutes to Texas for Monday's Super Bowl, hoping to do business with men arriving for the big game with money to burn, child rights advocates said.

As the country's largest sporting event, the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will make the Dallas-Fort Worth area a magnet for business of all kinds.

That includes the multimillion dollar, under-age sex industry, said activists and law enforcement officials working to combat what they say is an annual spike in trafficking of under-age girls ahead of the Super Bowl.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told a trafficking prevention meeting in January that the Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States.

Girls who enter the grim trade face a life of harsh treatment and danger, according to a Dallas police report in 2010.

Up to 300,000 girls between 11 and 17 are lured into the US sex industry annually, according to a 2007 report sponsored by the Department of Justice and written by the nonprofit group Shared Hope International.

Some 90 percent of runaways and children whose parents force them to leave home fall into the trade and are often beaten, drugged, raped or imprisoned to force compliance.

Pimps tattoo girls with "$" signs or the word "Daddy" and take them to unfamiliar cities where they are more vulnerable.

Pimps hired cab drivers to turn their vehicles into mobile brothels at previous Super Bowls, according to Deena Graves, executive director of child advocacy group Traffick911.

Up to 10,000 adult and under age girls have come to previous Super Bowls, said Jerry Strickland, communications director in the Texas attorney general's office, who acknowledged that precise figures are hard to gauge.