The vice enforcement unit of the Phoenix police department has revised its policy concerning prostitution just in time for Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1.
“Effective immediately, any individual who solicits or hires another person to commit an act of prostitution WILL be booked into jail pursuant to Phoenix City Code 23-52(A)(2),” reads an Employee Notification System bulletin obtained by The Daily Caller.
“Citing in lieu of detention is NOT an option as it is the purpose of this policy to reduce the demand for prostitution in the City of Phoenix,” the bulletin states, and “any deviation must have supervisor approval.”
The new edict was instituted on Jan. 22. (The quotations here retain the capitalization in the original.)
The genesis of the emergency john-arrest order appears to be local concerns that large sporting events such as the Super Bowl bring throngs of prostitutes to town as well as substantially increased demand for monetized sex transactions.
As the Arizona Daily Independent notes, Cindy McCain, the wife of Arizona Sen. John McCain, has heavily promoted the claim that the Super Bowl is linked to increased sex trafficking.
Two students at Arizona State University in nearby Tempe have also pushed the claim that the Super Bowl causes a temporary explosion in sex trafficking.
“Studies have shown that during major events, including the Super Bowl, there is an increase in prostitution demand,” instructed Erin Schulte, president of the All Walks Project at Arizona State, on Friday.
“However, many people do not realize that oftentimes, ‘prostitutes’ are actually victims of human trafficking,” Schulte added. “With the Super Bowl coming to Arizona, there is a spotlight on how Arizona is responding to domestic sex trafficking.”
The Phoenix vice squad’s order and earnest claims by activists such as Schulte are odd in one very important respect: Actual empirical evidence fails to support the claim that the Super Bowl is related to a prostitution spike.
“No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl,” observes Snopes.com, a website devoted to urban legends.
The Village Voice succinctly busted the myth around this time last year when Super Bowl XLVIII occurred at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women released a report in 2011 confirming that the ‘sporting events bring sex slaves’ story was a myth, one that had been around since the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece,” the Voice explained last year. “It found, too, that many of the anti-trafficking campaigns set around sporting events — for example the 2010 Vancouver Olympics — ‘confused trafficking with sex work and relied on extremely negative imagery about women.'”
In city after city, there has been no Super Bowl prostitution spike, the Manhattan-based alternative paper added.
“The durability of the Super Bowl prostitution myth isn’t surprising, given that it relies on just three things: politicians desperate for headlines, obliging journalists willing to write a big, breathless story before the game without doing any real follow-up afterwards, and anti-trafficking groups who desperately need donations and are grateful for any attention the media will give them.”
The claim that Super Bowl cities are rife with human trafficking appears to have replaced a previously-debunked claim among some activists: that Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the year for wife beatings and other domestic violence.