With a lot of hoopla, and a bit of rock and roll, high-profile sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, are viewed as determining a certain year’s champion team. But did you know high-profile events can be accompanied by nefarious activities such as human trafficking? Human trafficking exploiters use high-profile events involving traveling such as Mardi Gras, NCAA basketball tournaments, NBA finals, and College World Series to attract customers for exploiting victims. Exploiters use rideshares and air carriers to deliver their human commodities. Many transportation businesses are now equipping their employees with the tools to combat human trafficking through education. For instance, Uber and Lyft are educating their drivers on identifying the signs of human trafficking and how to report trafficking. Uber has partnered for two years with the attorney general of Florida, Ashley Moody, in a human trafficking campaign for the last two Super Bowls. Thousands of rideshare drivers view videos to learn human trafficking signs and clues to prevent the victimization of their passengers by others.1 Management of hotels are training their staff members by holding anti–human trafficking seminars and summits to identify signs of human trafficking.2
For Super Bowl LV in 2021, other collaborative educational efforts were developed for Tampa, sometimes called our nation’s “strip club capital.” A campaign known as “It’s a Penalty” was developed to connect with the Super Bowl host committee, Hillsboro County Commission on Human Trafficking, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFL, and many others.3 NFL players are featured on videos on American Airlines and Southwest Airlines flights to raise awareness of exploitation.
Apps are being used to educate Uber drivers to discern red flags regarding human trafficking.4 Uber created a podcast for its drivers with two leading anti-trafficking agencies—Polaris and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT). Drivers learn, for instance, to report human trafficking by calling resources such as the National Human Trafficking Hotline in high-risk situations. Because drivers are in a unique position to interact with and identify victims of human trafficking, education tools are essential in making drivers more vigilant in identifying trafficking issues, such as young passengers traveling with no luggage to or from an airport.5
Lyft and Delta Airlines are working together to identify clues and signs of human trafficking with “printed materials, online resources, and in-person sessions, as well as employee trainings and a series of learning sessions for drivers.”6 In fact, Delta Airlines formed an anti-trafficking steering committee as early as 2016 in order to train and guide thousands of Delta employees on “how to spot and report potential human trafficking incidents.”7 Lyft arranged for other entities such as Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST) and the Dressember Foundation (a collaborative movement leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to victims and survivors of human trafficking) to lead their driver educational sessions. Marissa Peden, director of Strategic Partnerships at the Dressember Foundation, stated: “We are excited to partner with Lyft in this new education initiative to help drivers learn how to identify human trafficking and equip them with resources should they suspect their passenger is a victim of human trafficking.”8
This commitment by rideshares, airlines, and hotels shows how significant an issue human trafficking has become at high-profile events where travel is involved. These efforts also demonstrate how committed these companies are in educating their employees and customers on identifying human exploitation signals. Significant strides to educate are vital to unlocking the doors of secrecy and ignorance that facilitate human exploitation. By continuing their efforts to educate, these companies are scoring touchdowns to defeat human trafficking to save victims.
1. Kelly Hayes, Ashley Moody Joins Uber in Human Trafficking Prevention Campaign Ahead of Super Bowl LV, Fla. Pol. (Jan. 27, 2021), https://floridapolitics.com/archives/398425-ashley-moody-again-joins-uber-in-human-trafficking-prevention-campaign-ahead-of-super-bowl-lv.
2. Caroline Marcello, Human Trafficking Expected to Spike During Super Bowl LV, KLFY.com (Feb. 5, 2021, 6:23 PM), https://www.klfy.com/lafayette-parish/human-trafficking-expected-to-spike-during-super-bowl-lv.
3. 2021 Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, Florida: Human Trafficking Is a Major Issue in Tampa Bay and the U.S., It’s a Penalty (2021), https://itsapenalty.org/2021-super-bowl-lv-in-tampa-bay.
4. Alex Whittler, Uber Dedicating More Resources to Combat Human Trafficking, Fox 5 Atlanta (July 31, 2020), https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/uber-dedicating-more-resources-to-combat-human-trafficking.
5. Claire Going, Uber Launches New Podcast for Drivers on How to Spot Human Trafficking, WSAV.com (Aug. 19, 2020, 4:58 PM), https://www.wsav.com/news/local-news/georgia-news/uber-launches-new-podcast-for-drivers-on-how-to-spot-human-trafficking.
6. Lyft Drivers and Delta Airlines Personnel Are Now Trained to Spot Human Trafficking, Lyft: The Hub (July 3, 2020), https://fightthenewdrug.org/lyft-drivers-and-delta-airlines-personnel-are-now-trained-to-spot-human-trafficking.
8. Lyft Partners with Anti-Trafficking Organizations to Educate Drivers on Human Trafficking Prevention, LYFT Blog (Jan. 7, 2020), https://www.lyft.com/blog/posts/best-and-lyft-partner-to-educate-drivers-on-human-trafficking-prevention.