Human Trafficking at Commercial Sporting Events

As teams and fans travel to Omaha for the College World Series, the city will become a hub for tourism, spectatorship – and human trafficking.

Though hard data has been hard to come by, anytime thousands of people descend on a city with money to spend there’s a greater market for prostitution, and as a result for sex trafficking. Crysta Price, co-director of Creighton University’s Human Trafficking Initiative, will be examining Omaha during the College World Series, leveraging online sources to understand if there is an increase in demand for sex trafficking during major commercial sporting events.

While it’s known that trafficking tends to spike around major sporting events, studies that try to determine the size of the problem often come up with contradictory data. One major stumbling block in answering this question, says Price, is that almost no one has successfully differentiated between voluntary and involuntary sex workers. 

“Because it’s difficult to identify trafficking victims within the commercial sex industry, it makes everyone’s job more difficult, and as a result, a lot of services for victims at the federal level go unused, and victims often end up arrested, unintentionally, for prostitution,” says Price.

Despite the difficulty, Price’s research team is making headway toward finding out who is a victim based on online clues. For example, online advertising websites such as Backpage and johns’ message boards provide information that helps determine the likelihood that prostitution is being facilitated by a third party, which may suggest a trafficking situation.

“A more long-term approach to assisting these individuals and targeting their traffickers is necessary,” says Price. “Like when dealing with organized crime, you have to be patient and collect intelligence in order to get to the traffickers. But that’s tough when you know these girls are in difficult and often dangerous situations; you want to get them out immediately." 

Source Contact Information

Creighton University
Co-Director of the Human Trafficking Initiative