House hearing aims to curb sex trafficking ahead of Super Bowl

A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee will hold a hearing next week on sex trafficking that happens around large sporting events like the Super Bowl.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who chairs the Africa, Global Human Rights & International Organizations subcommittee, has called a Monday hearing to explore what can be done to reduce prostitution at these events. The hearing will take place less than a week before the Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

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"New Jersey has a huge trafficking problem," Smith told the Associated Press earlier this month. "One Super Bowl after another after another has shown itself to be one of the largest events in the world where the cruelty of human trafficking goes on for several weeks."

The hearing will follow weeks of efforts to crackdown on sex trafficking in New Jersey, based on the advice of other cities that have seen huge spikes in prostitution during the Super Bowl. Smith's hearing will discuss those best practices. It is titled, "Lessons Learned from Super Bowl Preparations: Preventing International Human Trafficking at Major Sporting Events."

Members of the subcommittee will hear from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official, as well as representatives of the executive director of End Child Prostitution and Trafficking-USA.

Last week, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said the Super Bowl has become "America's traveling human trafficking magnet."

"Last year, while the two teams battled it out on the field, a young trafficked girl prayed for her life while sold for sex," Poe said on the House floor. "These are women and children who have been taken as sex slaves, becoming sought-after entertainment on Super Bowl weekend."

In November, Poe and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which would increase criminal penalties against sex traffickers.