Peace & Global Witness Offering Goes to the Super Bowl!

Guest post by Chuck Rawlings

Having “Super Bowl 50” in your community can be exciting for the sports fans, but for others it’s a red flag that human trafficking might increase right along with the arrival of crowds of fans.

Human trafficking is one form of violence against women.  In 2013 Susan Brooksbank attended the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in New York City, partly with funding from the Peace Offering through a grant from the San Jose Presbytery Peace & Justice Task Force. The focus was violence against women in all countries. For Susan the conference was life-changing to say the least.  She felt she couldn’t come back home to California without committing to doing something that could make a difference.  An issue that especially spoke to Susan was human trafficking.  She learned that it doesn’t just happen “over there,” but here in our own communities.

Susan chose to raise awareness of this issue in our own area.  She learned about Human Trafficking locally and worked with others to raise awareness of the issues.  In May of 2015 Susan ran the exhibition area of the bi-annual Freedom Summit sponsored by the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition at Levi Stadium where she met many activists.

Human Trafficking in our backyard logoSusan invited one of the exhibitors, Nita Belles, author of “In Our Backyard,” to speak at our church, Sunnyvale Presbyterian, allowing church and community people to learn about Human Trafficking and its particular impact during the Super Bowl.   Susan worked with Nita during the week before the big game. One special project included gathering 26 volunteers from our church and community (including members of the Task Force) who distributed missing children booklets to convenience stores and gas stations.  They also placed freedom stickers with the human trafficking hotline (888-3737-888) in restroom stalls, because often traffickers force their victims to clean up in those kinds of bathrooms.  The hotline helps them to be rescued.  (More Peace Offering funds had been given to an organization preparing materials for distribution locally.)

Reports show that pre-“Super Bowl 50” efforts resulted in 12 pimps arrested, 129 prostitutes offered services to help get them out of “the life,” 85 people busted for soliciting sex, and 7 juveniles rescued from sex traffickers by law enforcement during the weeks before the Super Bowl.  Law enforcement, hotel workers, airport workers, and many others in the area were on heightened alert to identify trafficked victims.  The combined work of many led to these results.

While the Super Bowl did heighten the level of awareness, human trafficking occurs 365 days a year. The work of awareness needs to continue, as does the work to change laws and change behaviors that lead to trafficking in our community and yours.

Yours in Peace,

Chuck Rawlings
Interim Chair, Peace and Justice Task Force
Presbytery of San Jose

The work of San Jose Presbytery was supported by their mid-council component of Peace & Global Witness Offering Funds. Your generous gifts to this offering will be split between your local congregation (25%), mid-council (25%), and Presbyterian Mission Agency efforts of peacemaking and reconciliation (50%). You can join this effort by giving generously online or in your congregation. Thank you.

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