Bars of soap in hotel rooms might save lives this Super Bowl weekend.
As the eyes of the world watch the action unfolding at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, police, authorities, airlines and hotels are dealing with a sinister problem that tends to arise this time of year: human trafficking activity.
While antislavery groups are cautious to paint Super Bowl as a magnet for sex trafficking — they’re quick to point out it’s a year-round problem — the NFL championship match is often been dubbed the biggest sex trafficking event in the United States, as hundreds of thousands of cashed-up sports fans descend on the host city to celebrate the big game and, in many cases, indulge in sex services that use Super Bowl as their hook.
What’s worse is this year’s host city, Atlanta, is considered one of the biggest hubs of sex trafficking nationwide, according to WTOL News.
Anti-human trafficking groups and authorities have stepped up their efforts to bust sex rings and rescue victims. Posters have been plastered around the city bearing the faces of 16 missing girls feared to be victims of human trafficking.
Atlanta police officers have been given two hours of extra training on how to recognise and deal with human trafficking in the lead-up to Super Bowl weekend, a police spokesman told Reuters.
Police in Georgia have already arrested at least 40 people in relation to sex trafficking over the weekend, and rescued four victims.
And hotel staff and flight attendants — often regarded as the frontline defence against human trafficking — are stepping up their efforts to identify victims.
And this year, hotels have seen an unusual but hopefully effective approach.
Massive deliveries of bars of soap and makeup wipes were dropped off at hotels around Atlanta last weekend bearing a message to potential victims and a phone number to get help.
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