The Super Bowl is a football game, but it’s also a secular holiday. Families and friends who gather for the game may not be invested in either team, but they cherish the ritual, the food, the conversation, and — assuming they were lucky enough not to get a seat to this year’s game — the warmth. For New Jerseyans, this year’s game comes with bragging rights: New York may be the “host city,” but the game is being played in the Garden State. You got a problem with that?
One problem activists see is that the Super Bowl, like other huge entertainment events, attracts visitors and high-rollers and an uptick in human trafficking. While law enforcement debates the extent of this criminal activity, activists have taken advantage of the global spotlight to raise awareness of what can fairly be called “modern-day slavery.”
To help counter human trafficking, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice has been aggressively working with law enforcement, hotels, truck and taxi drivers, schools, other organizations, and multiple agencies. This week it is sponsoring school assemblies for high school and middle school students and community programs around the state.
The Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ helped found a statewide effort, the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking, which is working with law enforcement and grassroots groups to help raise awareness, provide education, and join in the fight against the scourge of sexual and labor exploitation.
Up to and on the day of the Super Bowl, the coalition is spreading the message with the #HTchallenge, a social media campaign meant to generate discussion and communicate facts and statistics about the issue. Participants are asked to find a few minutes on game day to discuss human trafficking and the need for its abolition.