January 31, 2018

Why Are Pro-Prostitution Pundits Fighting Anti-Sex Trafficking Campaigns Around the Super Bowl?

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation works with dozens of anti-sexual exploitation groups every year on the #TackleDemand campaign to raise awareness about the need to combat the demand for commercial sex. Why? In part, because the demand for commercial sex fuels sex trafficking.

Every year some people make hyperbolic and false claims that the Super Bowl is the largest sex trafficking event in the country. We are not among them.

But in recent years, another contingent has emerged that claims the exact opposite: that sex trafficking at the Super Bowl is a complete myth.

Interestingly, most of the people making this claim are pro-prostitution (or as they fashionably style it “sex work.”)

The reality is that sex trafficking does occur in connection with Super Bowl, and at most large sporting events, due to increased demand of people (mostly men) looking to buy sex around a celebratory experience.

In 2017, at least 9 sex traffickers and 183 sex buyers were arrested in connection with Super Bowl LI in Houston. In 2015, 360 sex buyers and 68 traffickers were arrested and 30 juvenile victims were recovered. In 2014, 45 arrests were made and 16 juveniles recovered.  In 2013 at the New Orleans Super Bowl, 85 arrests made and five victims recovered.

Every year, sex traffickers and buyers are arrested and sex trafficking victims are identified at the Super Bowl.

super bowl sex trafficking number

It’s econ 101!


Enticed by the potential for greater profits, sex traffickers will increase the supply of sexually trafficked persons in areas where there are large sporting events or conventions, particularly if there is a strong demographic of males.

Research from the Arizona School of Social Work entitled “Exploring Sex Trafficking and Prostitution during the Super Bowl 2014” supports this concept. Researchers looked at online ads for prostitution being posted leading up to and during the Super Bowl. The researchers evaluated ads according to a “Sex Trafficking Matrix,” which categorized certain advertisements as “high-risk,” meaning that these ads likely depicted trafficked persons.

The report found that there were distinct victim movements and marketing trends that correspond with the build-up towards the Super Bowl.

The study concluded that “the Super Bowl, or any large event which provides a significant concentration of people in a relatively confined urban area, becomes a desirable location for a trafficker to bring their victims for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.”

So why does the pro-prostitution lobby claim there is no connection between sex trafficking and the Super Bowl?

The sex trade is the bedrock on which all sex trafficking exists. Therefore efforts to stop sex trafficking—especially by curbing sex buying behavior—necessarily impact the bottom line of everyone involved in the trade, especially sex traffickers (a.k.a. pimps). In other words, campaigns like #TackleDemand and law enforcement efforts surrounding the Super Bowl disrupt the sex trade’s business model, meaning they make less money. This makes the organized sexual exploitation industry mad, very mad.

Make no mistake, the sex trade is organized and it is founded on sexual exploitation.

Prostitution, whether coerced or not, relies on and fuels the same notions of male sexual entitlement as sex trafficking. It fosters the idea that consent can be bought, and that people are sexual commodities. Click To Tweet


When faced with likely biased motivations, as compared to real life experiences of sex trafficking survivors, law enforcement, and research, it’s clear that our #TackleDemand campaign is on the right track.

You can join in the campaign and speak out against sex trafficking online by tweeting, or retweeting, the below messages:

If men stopped buying sex, sex trafficking would stop. #TackleDemand Click To Tweet

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

Further Reading