Georgia Poised to Pass New Anti-Sex Trafficking Law

ATLANTA, Ga.—Now that it's 2019 and the Super Bowl, which will be hosted in Atlanta this year, is on all football fans' radar, the Usual Suspects have crawled out of their burrows and have begun beating the drum for more anti-sex trafficking laws—and what better place to do so than Georgia, which recently gerrymandered itself into another Republican governorship?

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), "Georgia politicians are preparing a raft of new legislation this year to target sex trafficking, including measures that make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute the crime and new ways for government agencies to offer trauma treatment for victims. ... The legislation to be considered during the General Assembly session that begins Jan. 14 has yet to be introduced, but state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, said it will center on two themes. The first would give law enforcement officials more resources to investigate the crime. And the second would create a legal framework between law enforcement, the judicial system, state agencies and advocacy groups to coordinate trauma care."

Super Bowl LIII isn't due until February 3, but anti-trafficking groups are already out in force. One of them, Street Grace, has already organized a caravan of 72 school buses, which drove in tight formation from midtown Atlanta to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the bowl teams will clash, with each bus sporting an anti-trafficking message "designed to create a mile-long moving billboard through the city’s crowded streets," according to the AJC.

Already on the books in Georgia is a 2016 voter initiative that requires each of the state's adult entertainment businesses (strip clubs, bookstores, novelty stores) to pay at least $5,000 per year in taxes allegedly to finance a fund that purportedly would provide treatment for trafficking victims. And in 2017, Gov. Deal signed a law that makes johns who happen to wind up with an alleged trafficked prostitute equally liable as her trafficker for sex trafficking violations. Notably, in some jurisdictions, simply to be found plying the trade of prostitution automatically assumes that the prostitute is a trafficked person.

But ... "A 2012 investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that despite millions spent on anti-trafficking initiatives, the scope of the problem was unknown and that some agencies failed to keep accurate information about whether taxpayer-funded initiatives were effective."

The main reason "the scope of the problem was unknown" was because it's virtually non-existent. For example, last year, when the Super Bowl was played in Minneapolis, and similar scare stories began to appear about the dangers of increased sex trafficking in the city due to the football event, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) dismissed the ruckus as “manufactured media hype” that "seeks to raise funds and attract attention."

“What is the cost of such rumors?” asked Annalee Lepp, an expert in human trafficking at Canada’s University of Victoria and GAATW board member. “There are really harmful effects ... on the very people that everybody is so concerned about.”

Even fact/rumor-checking website has looked into the issue.

"No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl," Snopes quoted the Legal Aid Society's Kate Mogulescu, founder and supervising attorney of the society's Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project, as reporting. "The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of nongovernmental organizations, published a report in 2011 examining the record on sex trafficking related to World Cup soccer games, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. It found that, 'despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.'

"Even with this lack of evidence, the myth has taken hold through sheer force of repetition, playing on desires to rescue trafficking victims and appear tough on crime. Whether the game is in Dallas, Indianapolis or New Orleans, the pattern is the same: Each Super Bowl host state forms a trafficking task force to 'respond' to the issue; the task force issues a foreboding statement; the National Football League pledges to work with local law enforcement to address trafficking; and news conference after news conference is held. The actual number of traffickers investigated or prosecuted hovers around zero."

GAATW also weighed in at the time.

"The hype around large sporting events and increases in trafficking for prostitution is often based on misinformation, poor data, and a tendency to sensationalise," it said. "Despite the lack of evidence, this idea continues to hold great appeal for prostitution abolitionist groups, anti-immigration groups, and a number of politicians, scholars and journalists. ...

"Despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events. This link has been de-bunked by other anti-trafficking organisations and researchers. There is also no empirical evidence that the demand for paid sex increases dramatically during international sporting events."

So get ready for that "media hype" to saturate pre-Super Bowl coverage for the next month, and maybe for a bit after the game, as anti-trafficking "experts" do their best to hide what little (if any) trafficking activity actually took place.