Groups aim to fight expected sex trafficking spike at Super Bowl

U.S. Bank Stadium
U.S. Bank Stadium will host the Super Bowl next year.
Andy Clayton-King | AP file

A coalition of community and government groups hopes to use the 2018 Super Bowl to draw attention to local efforts to fight sex trafficking.

The organizations want to raise awareness of forced prostitution among Minnesotans and people coming to Minneapolis next February for the National Football League's championship game.

"It's an opportunity for us to reach almost a million people with anti-trafficking prevention messages, really educating men and boys about not buying sex," said Terry Williams, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Women's Foundation of Minnesota.

The groups also hope to provide more help to sex trafficking victims and to educate hotel workers and others about how to spot trafficking victims and respond.

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The NFL is helping fund the effort.

"We are pleased to support the efforts of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota for its leadership of the anti-trafficking planning committee," NFL spokeswoman Clare Graff wrote in an email.

The game is expected to cause some increase in sex trafficking.

But such exploitation of people for profit is an everyday issue, said Beth Holger-Ambrose, executive director of the Link, a nonprofit that provides emergency shelter and housing for youth who have been sexually trafficked.

"Every single day of the year there are youths bought and sold in Minnesota," Holger-Ambrose said, adding that there's not enough housing to help everyone in need.

"Our hope is that we can utilize this wonderful opportunity of the Super Bowl coming to town to heighten awareness about the issue of sex trafficking and increase our responses across the board," she said.

University of Minnesota professor Lauren Martin studied the connection between major sporting events and sex trafficking.