When Heather Havard was a freshman in high school, she heard the song “27 Million” by worship leader Matt Redman about the number of slaves in the world.
She was moved enough to begin doing her own research and taking measures to fight human trafficking. This weekend, she’s leading a group of 10 people, most of them students at Sam Houston State University, where Havard is now a sophomore, to Atlanta to raise awareness during the Super Bowl about the problem of human trafficking.
“The Super Bowl is the number one event every year where human trafficking rates skyrocket,” said Havard, a member of University Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville, Texas. “Traffickers will come from all over the country, and some from places all over the world. They’ll rent out whole hotel floors. Sometimes you’ll find that entire hotels are rented out by traffickers.”
Havard and her fellow students will walk around Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday handing out literature about human trafficking. They’ll also make rounds in parking lots to leave literature on vehicles. Havard said it’s important for people to know that as of 2018, there were more than 40 million human trafficking slaves in the world. In the state of Texas alone, 78,000 children and infants are being sexually exploited.
Havard’s group is just one of many anti-human-trafficking organizations that are mobilizing during Super Bowl activities in Atlanta. Kasey McClure, founder of the organization 4Sarah, said the Super Bowl city is a prime target for human trafficking.
“The Super Bowl draws men, and when it draws men, usually there comes money,” McClure said, and “that, unfortunately, draws women.”
Women in the sex industry — and the men who exploit them — see the Super Bowl as an opportunity to make money, McClure said. Sometimes pimps will bring girls to the host Super Bowl city and make them work online or walk the streets. Many of these girls are underage.
McClure and volunteers she recruited spent Jan. 25-26 at First Baptist Church in Conyers, Ga., which served as a call center. Volunteers combed through online personal ads of women offering themselves for sexual services and documented the information they gleaned from the various ads. McClure then made phone calls to the women, offering them resources to help them get out of the industry.
“I saw your ad online,” McClure said when calls were answered. “I’m not with law enforcement. I’m calling today to offer you some encouragement. I’d like to text you a link where you can find some information about leaving the sex industry.”
Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press