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Sisters, volunteers team up to stop Super Bowl human trafficking
February 1st, 2016
By Christina Gray

Human traffickers expected to flow into the Bay Area this week for Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara may be sidelined if the efforts of Catholic sisters from a dozen different religious communities in Northern California and the volunteers they trained are successful.

The Northern California Coalition of Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, also known as the Stop Slavery Coalition, and a team of trained volunteers from San Francisco, the Peninsula, the East Bay and Marin, made visits to almost 300 South Bay hotels over the last six months to educate managers, housekeeping staff, security teams and others how to recognize and report the signs of human trafficking on their premises, according to Sister Therese Randolph, RSM.

The sisters and their associates left printed material and posters with information about telltale signs of human trafficking victims which can include submissive or fearful behaviors such as avoiding eye contact with others, poor physical health and seemingly scripted responses to questions.

Sister Therese said the hospitality industry was more receptive than in previous years.

“The hospitality industry here has grown in its willingness to monitor activity that might point to the abuse of children and adults through trafficking,” she told Catholic San Francisco by email Feb. 1.

According to UNANIMA International, a non-governmental organization advocating on behalf of women and children living in poverty, sex traffickers see major sporting events as an opportunity for huge profits with little risk of penalty. Major sporting events such as the Super Bowl set for Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium, are notorious for attracting traffickers who bring large “stables” of women and children to hotels and motels surrounding the venue.

The sisters’ efforts are part of larger and ongoing effort to combat human trafficking in all forms, said Sister Fran Tobin, RSCJ. “We have also been an active partner in the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking composed of many social and civil institutions all focused on the issue of human trafficking in the area.”

“Perhaps one of the most important results of this collaborative effort across the cities and counties of the Bay Area is the commitment to continue this work together after the Super Bowl,” said Sister Therese. “Recognizing that this is a singular event in the midst of an ongoing problem, groups have forged alliances that will continue and increase efforts to prevent and stop modern day slavery.”

In October 2015 Pope Francis told a human trafficking conference that “with the help of God and with collaboration it will be possible to free the victims of new slaveries” and make “human dignity available to every person.”

From February 4, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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