The United Methodist Women of Great Bend will combat human trafficking on Super Bowl Sunday by joining the “Intercept the Traffickers” photo campaign.
LaVonne Gerritzen at First United Methodist Church said members of the church’s UMW Executive Board recently formed a huddle for a photographic reminder of the nationwide campaign. “Locally, we are putting a flier in the bulletin the Sunday of the Super Bowl, along with a spot on our bulletin overhead projector,” she said. “I personally spread the word when I visit other area Methodist churches — and as the Social Action Coordinator for the Hutchinson District of UMW — 50-plus churches — I have spread the word about the action of ‘huddling’ to stop human trafficking.”
On Feb. 1, 2015, many Americans will watch Super Bowl XLIX, the largest sporting event in the United States. The Super Bowl will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Although big sporting and entertainment events are not proven to cause human trafficking, such events intensify the space in which such crimes can occur.
According to promoters of the campaign:
Thousands will travel to the Phoenix area to take part in Super Bowl festivities. Among the travelers will be those arriving in Arizona by force, fraud or coercion — they will not be there of their own free will but as victims of human trafficking.
The Super Bowl ranks second only to Thanksgiving as the day on which Americans consume the most food, and some of those who are trafficked will be serving food in restaurants or at catered parties related to the Super Bowl. Others will clean hotel rooms, wash dishes, tidy nail salons, deliver dry cleaning or wash windows. Some will be trafficked as sex workers for “escort” services or in men-only clubs.
Campaign participants plan to form a virtual circle of United Methodist Women “huddling” around Arizona stadium.
“In sports, the huddle is a way for team members to check in with each other, exchange information, and agree on strategy and actions. The huddle is a place of intense and purposeful focus. So let us huddle. Let us get up close, put our heads (and hearts) together, let’s name human trafficking as the crime that it is. Let us commit ourselves to acts of prevention and protection, so that those who are victimized can move from trauma to thriving. Let’s huddle to pass laws that prosecute the traffickers, not the victimized. Let’s huddle together to bear witness to the strength of survivors and to partner in their journey to wholeness.”
It would take approximately 900 people standing hand-in-hand to surround the University of Phoenix stadium. The 800,000 members of United Methodist Women can circle the stadium nearly 10,000 times.