Baker Books Author Nita Belles Featured At the Super Bowl
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 21, 2016) — With Super Bowl fast approaching, local Bay area businesses are gearing up for the parties and celebrations that commence the first week of February, while local law enforcement, government agencies, and volunteers are preparing for an escalation on the dark side of the big event — human trafficking.
Most fans are unaware, but major sporting events ignite a party atmosphere which brings together a large group of fans who want to have a good time. Parties ramp up a week or two before the big game, and often men there have the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality.
“What happens at Super Bowl, stays at Super Bowl. That’s the attitude of many party goers during football’s big game festivities,” cites human trafficking expert Nita Belles, founder of In Our Backyard and author of a book by the same title. She adds, “During several of these parties, children and adults are often trafficked for sex. Others are recruited into trafficking by sweet-talking pimps, and the victim doesn’t even know they are becoming a victim until it is too late.”
Featured at Super Bowl for seven years in a row, Belles and her team of volunteers will join forces with Bay area law enforcement and government agencies to assist in their efforts, to increase awareness, and to look for missing children.
In 2013, a press release by law enforcement in New Orleans reported 85 arrests pertaining to human trafficking during the Super Bowl there, with five victims of human trafficking officially rescued.
Belles also shares that her team rescued others, including two 19-year-old girls from Tulane University in her book In Our Backyard—Human Trafficking In America and What We Can Do To Stop It (Baker Books, 2015). The two thought it would be fun to get fake IDs and party with the Super Bowl crowd. When they found themselves intoxicated on a corner surrounded by pimps moving in from all sides, they became afraid and didn’t know what they were going to do to be safe—until Belles and her team pulled up and told them to get in the car.
“This story should remind us that the fight we are in to stop human trafficking is real, and that traffickers are not selective about their victims,” Belles said. “Any vulnerable person will do. This game—this human trafficking game, is all about traffickers making money. It’s not that trafficking happens only during Super Bowl and then it’s over. It is happening every day of the year in every zip code in the United States.”
Belles cautions that any place there is Internet, there is trafficking. And that while the Super Bowl is a huge issue, the public needs to be at least as concerned about what happens daily in our backyard.
“All the traffickers ask is that you don’t say a word. All I ask, is that you do. It’s time to link arms across America and put an end to human trafficking,” she said.
Those interested in learning more about Nita Belles and what can be done to help stop human trafficking, can visit www.InOurBackyard.org. (Interview information below).
Nita Belles is the managing director of the nonprofit In Our Backyard and the regional director for Central Oregonians Against Traficking Humans (OATH). A former associate pastor, she holds a Master’s Degree in Theology with a concentration in Women’s Concerns.
Belles leads a team of professionals who volunteer with In Our Backyard to fight human traficking during the celebrations surrounding the Super Bowl each year. In each state the Super Bowl is held, she often works with the Office of the Attorney General along with other government agencies and law enforcement to help prevent human trafficking and rescue victims who have been traficked.
Last year, Belles, along with the help of former victims of trafficking, designed “The Freedom Sticker,” which provides a hot line for victims to call or text so that they can be rescued. In June 2015,with the help of Oregon State Rep. Gail Whitsett, House Bill 3143 passed through the legislature and was signed in to law by Gov. Kate Brown. The bill says that any business renewing their liquor license will receive the stickers and be asked to place them in the stalls in their restrooms. Legislators link arms with Belles in asking our country to join in their efforts.
Belles will be available for interviews before the Super Bowl, from January 24th-26th and January 30th-February 6th.