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Super Bowl Sunday: Game Grabs the Spotlight, but Human Trafficking Lurks in the Shadows
By Holly Testa, Director, Shareowner Engagement

The New York Giants and the New England Patriots are ready, and the fans are excitedly looking forward to one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Whether you are an avid football fan or watch the game for the creative commercials, most Americans know who is playing and have stocked up on tasty snacks for the big event. What many do not know, however, is that high profile sporting events like the Super Bowl mask an ongoing tragedy that happens behind-the-scenes.

According to the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), "Traffickers in the sex trade are gearing up for their most profitable weekend of the year." Members of ICCR have been working with hotels and law-enforcement venues in the cities that host mammoth sporting events, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and last year's Super Bowl in Dallas,to raise awareness of the risks of child sex trafficking that takes place during these events. ICCR targets hotels where much of the illegal activity takes place, providing assistance for training their staff to recognize trafficking when it occurs and how to report it to authorities.

Human trafficking reaches far beyond sporting events; it is prevalent throughout the entire global economy. According to the U.S. State Department's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, an estimated 12.3 million people are victims of forced labor and human trafficking, and 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, primarily for sexual exploitation and child labor. Global annual profits made from trafficking—the modern world version of slavery—are estimated to be $31.6 billion.

Because much of the human trafficking is hidden within the global supply chain, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y introduced H.R. 2759, the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. If passed, the law will require companies with gross revenues in excess of $100 million to disclose existing policies and management systems designed to address trafficking, slavery, and other forms of human rights abuses within their supply chains. H.R. 2759 would apply to publicly traded or private entities and have far-reaching global impact. This bill expands upon the first of its kind California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, which enforces similar provisions on all retailers and manufacturers doing business in the state of California.

Socially conscious investors strongly support this bill to combat human trafficking. A coalition of institutional investors, research organizations, and investment firms, representing $42 billion dollars of investments under management, sent a letter to the leadership of the House, where support appears to be weak. The letter requests “the Republican leadership to ensure that the Financial Services Committee places H.R. 2759 at the top of its agenda and moves it to the House floor in an expeditious manner.” First Affirmative Financial Network is one of the 80 signatories.

Posted: February 3, 2012