By Guest Columnist DEBORAH J. RICHARDSON, executive vice president of The National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Once again Atlanta can be a leader in advancing civil and human rights. It is great news for Atlanta to host the 2019 Super Bowl and congratulations to all who made it happen. Below is the opportunity before us.
For several years, advocates have called attention to the fact that human trafficking – especially sex trafficking – increases exponentially during big events, and notably the Super Bowl.
While little specific data have been captured, law enforcement substantiates these claims. In other cities that have hosted the Super Bowl, a group of primarily nonprofits, have come together and launched campaigns to bring awareness. Since the early 2000s, when Atlanta was the first major city to bring to the forefront domestic sex trafficking, we have aligned our faith communities, and built strong business, law enforcement and political partnerships to address it.
Now with the addition of The Center for Civil and Human Rights’ International Human Trafficking Institute, we can seize this opportunity to plan and execute a no-trafficking zone during Super Bowl 2019.
Three of the founding companies of the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking are based in Atlanta and the other members have business presence here. The mayor’s office and Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport coordinated with the center and our institute last summer in sponsoring a human trafficking awareness exhibition with airport wide public service announcements that were viewed by over 100,000 persons.
Our elected officials in Atlanta, Fulton County and surrounding counties, and state of Georgia, have passed legislation, convened coalitions, and supported law enforcement and prosecution efforts. The Carter Center is on board and President Carter is an ardent advocate and powerful spokesperson. We have all the components to pull this off and set the standard for how events can be an economic boon while protecting those most vulnerable.
As Atlanta was the think tank of the American Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago, let’s shine our spotlight again as a protector of 21st century human rights.
For more information on the International Human Trafficking Institute visit: www.theihti.org.