There I sat with my three young daughters, excited for a break from football, anticipating top-notch musical entertainment.
Or so I thought.
I suppose I should have known better, but I didn’t. There certainly was no warning from the NFL or the Super Bowl Halftime Show sponsor, Pepsi.
But there should have been.
Within seconds, I knew the “performance” was in bad taste. A couple minutes in, it was clear this hyper-sexualized show was not going to improve, and I had to get it off my television. The dancing, the (lack of) clothing, the lyrics, even the performers’ facial expressions, were all sexualized. The only place one might expect this type of “entertainment” would be in a strip club. Certainly not on primetime TV, not to mention during an iconic athletic event viewed by more than 100 million people, many of whom are children.
As we watched America’s Funniest Home Videos for the duration of the Halftime Show, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d just seen. It was nothing less than objectifying of and degrading to women. How anyone could call it “empowering” to females is beyond me. It was just the opposite — it depicted the exploitation of women.
What really made me shudder was to think about the connection between what was depicted on stage and what was happening all around Miami last weekend: human trafficking for sex.
Did you know that sex traffickers converge on the cities that host the Super Bowl and other large sporting events each year? They are drawn by the influx of male visitors and promise of increased demand for commercial sex. And do you know what drives an increased demand for commercial sex? To a large degree, it’s pornographic images and hyper-sexualized “entertainment.”
According to the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, the United States is the number one consumer of sex worldwide. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion a year at the expense of 40 million victims.
And it’s not just women. Twenty-five percent of trafficking victims are children. All victims are abused. They are forced and coerced to sell their bodies for sex against their will.
One victim is too many.
As I reflect on what I saw on the Super Bowl Halftime Show, I’m disturbed and outraged for much bigger reasons than what I must shield my children from on primetime TV. My deepest regret is knowing that the sexualization and objectification of women being “sold” on that Halftime Show stage was also being sold outside the stadium in the form of human trafficking.
So, what can we do about it? Must we just accept the fact that the Superbowl Halftime Show will forever be a hyper-sexualized, inappropriate performance off-limits to families and children? Must we all prepare with remotes in hand, ready to change the channel next year?
Yes, and no. Yes, because every parent should be on guard for what could be streamed directly into our living rooms during the Halftime Show—or any show—and be ready to take quick action.
But no, because there are many policy solutions we can support as well. Coincidentally, President Trump announced last Friday that he would request a $42 million budget increase in February to expand support for victims of human trafficking, to boost investigations and the prosecution of traffickers. We applaud him for this action and for the continued attention the Trump Administration gives to human trafficking in our country.
In addition, FPA supports policy proposals to curb human trafficking state by state. We are working with state legislators and allies to introduce and support our model legislation to require increased reporting of human and sex trafficking aimed at improving law enforcement and education efforts to combat this modern-day slavery. This is just one example of how public policy can help end the scourge of human trafficking.
But I believe there is something more immediate than public policy that you and I can do to affect change on this matter. It’s quite simple, but the results could be significant.
I hope that you will take a few minutes to join Family Policy Alliance and me as we speak up for a nation where families thrive and life is cherished, and especially for the victims of human trafficking who can’t speak for themselves.
Standing with you,
Director of External Relations
Sex trafficking. We know that it exists, that this modern-day slavery is happening all around us.
Or do we?
Like all evils, it’s easier to imagine it happening in other places, in other countries and cultures. But the truth is, human trafficking is happening right here in the United States of America. It’s happening in our cities, in our communities, and sometimes in our very own neighborhoods.
Next week, for one day only, a feature film on the truth of sex trafficking in America will come to a theater near you. Blind Eyes Opened will play in 800 theaters across the country on Thursday, Jan. 23. This first-of-its-kind Christian documentary will expose the depths of the U.S. sex trafficking industry, including what fuels its demand.
And one of those major fuels is pornography.
Nearly all men who engage in sex trafficking also use pornography. These men also often demand that their victims perform in ways they have viewed in pornography. In fact, pornography is frequently shown to sex trafficking victims to train them in how to “perform,” as well as to desensitize them to the violence, degradation, and humiliation they will experience. Since 90 percent of pornography videos show physical and verbal aggression towards women, it’s no surprise that trafficking victims regularly endure violence and brutality in addition to horrible sexual abuse.
Family Policy Alliance® and our allies are working hard to raise awareness about the intrinsic link between pornography and sex trafficking, and to develop policy solutions. In part, we have crafted model legislation for states that would require non-governmental and governmental to human and sex trafficking to a state commissioner. The commissioner would then be required to use this data to improve law enforcement efforts combatting trafficking and to educate citizens on how pornography and sex-trafficking are inextricably linked.
As most states begin their 2020 legislative sessions this month, won’t you join us in praying for meaningful policy to advance in these areas across the country this year?
The first step to action is awareness. Blind Eyes Opened is a unique opportunity on Jan. 23 to raise awareness of the reality of human trafficking. We encourage you to purchase a ticket for a theater near you, and tell your friends and family members to do the same.
Blind Eyes Opened not only exposes the darkness of what fuels the demand of the sex industry, but it provides hope by sharing the incredible transformations of sex trafficking survivors who have found new life in Christ. Viewers will leave educated and emboldened to be part of the solution.
Together, with eyes wide open, we can make a difference and help stop the brutal trafficking of human beings and the sex trade in our country.
Stephanie Curry, Esq
There is currently a concerted effort to legalize prostitution in our nation’s capital. The Council of the District of Columbia’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee held a hearing last week to consider the “Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019.” As innocuous as it sounds, this legislation would fully decriminalize prostitution in Washington, D.C., including sex buying, pimping and brothel keeping. The legislation is extreme in both its scope and its destructive consequences if passed.
The negative consequences of legalizing prostitution are well-known from other cities and countries that have passed such laws: more girls, boys, and women are exploited, violence against those bought and sold for sex increases, and sex trafficking surges. Rather than protect the vulnerable and exploited, decriminalizing prostitution protect pimps (the people who sell other human beings) and Johns (the people who buy other human beings for sex).
Thankfully, awareness of both the causes and effects of prostitution is increasing across the country. Americans are starting to wake up to our highly sexualized culture and ask what can and must be done to stem the tide.
Pornography is a known cause of prostitution and human sex trafficking. Exposure to pornography is the number one driver for people — primarily men — to buy sex. Many women who have escaped from prostitution recount their experience being forced to perform acts that their buyers had seen in porn.
As a result of this awareness and evidence, 16 states have passed resolutions that declare pornography a public health crisis in the past three years. Family Policy Foundation’s Statesmen Academy alumnus Rep. Jena Powell is now leading the effort to make Ohio the 17th state to pass such a resolution. These anti-pornography resolutions rightly recognize the destruction of pornography on the human brain, consumers and their families, and society as a whole.
But as states take action to curb the harmful effects of pornography — and by extension, sex trafficking and prostitution — It is imperative that our nation’s capital not become a global sex destination by decriminalizing prostitution.
Take action now by sending the entire Washington, D.C. City Council a message that legalizing prostitution in our nation’s capital is a bad idea and you want to protect vulnerable women, girls and boys from increased sexual exploitation and violence.
Standing against exploitation,
The Family Policy Alliance Team
The shocking and shameful Jeffrey Epstein case has exploded across the screens of national media outlets, placing the heinous reality of child sex-trafficking back into the spotlight. Americans are outraged at what appears to be a closely guarded and organized ring of the rich and famous, both men and women, sexually exploiting our children.
There’s no doubt evil takes place all around us; permeating across all income levels, political lines, and ethnic groups. Sexual exploitation is a $99 billion industry. With that kind of profit, we know how high the stakes are for protecting our children from being exploited themselves.
We cannot and will not stand by and allow our children’s bodies to be commodified, their sexuality exploited, and their identities stolen. This is not a far-away problem only perpetrated by rapists in Manhattan penthouses or pimps in dingy motel rooms. Child sexual exploitation is a problem that is very close to our movement and one we at Family Policy Alliance® address on a near daily basis.
It is an essential and necessary part of Family Policy Alliance’s mission to promote and advance policy that will serve families by protecting their vulnerable and priceless members, their children. Certainly, it is the duty of all of society to keep evil at bay.
Here are some examples of how we fight on a daily basis, alongside our state family policy council allies, for the identity, innocence, and innate value of our children.
- Family Policy Alliance knows adult entertainment clubs are an identified route to lure children into sex-trafficking. That’s why we have actively protested (alongside Texas Values, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico, and many more) adult entertainers emerging from their sordid nightclubs into the libraries and schools of our children. They call it Drag Queen Story Hour— a “reading” session that targets young children and normalizes the sexual fetishizing of their bodies.
- Family Policy Alliance knows sexual predators attempt to gain the trust of children. This virtually always involves isolating them from their parents physically, emotionally, and psychologically. We know parents are in the best position to protect their children. That’s why it’s a major red flag when radical activists continually seek to push policies and laws that eliminate a parent’s ability to safeguard their children in education, medical care, and mental health services. This is why many of our state allies like Louisiana Family Forum, The Family Foundation (KY), and the Christian Civil League of Maine, have worked tirelessly to protect the decision-making rights of parents when it comes to keeping their children safe. Parents must be allowed to say no to explicit and graphic sexual content in the classroom; no to surgeries and drugs that purport to change the gender of their children; and no to mental health services that push a political gender narrative.
- Family Policy Alliance knows a child can’t consent to sex. If our children are having sex with an adult, that’s rape; “not childhood exploration”. This is why we stand with our allies like Colorado Family Action, California Family Council, and the Family Policy Institute of Washington, against organizations like Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth who push comprehensive sex ed curriculums that teach children they have the right to sex, with whoever they want, “no matter what age.” Parents have the right to set sexual boundaries for their children.
As the next legislative session approaches quickly, be assured Family Policy Alliance is building strategy, policies, and parent guide documents to address and expose the deceitful promises and false-identity agenda that is showing up in many areas that directly impact our children.
Parents are the gatekeepers of our children’s morality, education, identity, and ultimately their hearts. We are doing everything we can to keep it that way!
If you want to know more about our work, please visit familypolicyalliance.com!
For the children,
By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®
You are probably aware that Planned Parenthood aborts well over 300,000 babies a year, they have been caught selling aborted baby body parts, and they are pushing their way into providing hormones for people to “transition to the opposite sex.” Now there’s yet another reason to oppose the government giving any more of our money to Planned Parenthood. They have been caught aiding child sex traffickers.
This information was brought to light in a LiveAction video showing a Planned Parenthood worker giving a pimp advice about how to evade parental consent requirements for medical services and advising him how soon after an abortion a girl could be sold for sex. In response to this video, instead of punishing those involved in aiding the sex trafficker and training their employees to recognize sexual abuse and trafficked victims – Planned Parenthood began teaching their employees how to recognize when they were being recorded. Former Planned Parenthood staffers have even said that reporting sex trafficking & sexual abuse was discouraged, when in fact in most states “health care providers” are mandatory reporters of sexual abuse.
Research shows that Planned Parenthood has repeatedly and flagrantly ignored mandatory reporting laws. A study of survivors of human trafficking found that forced or coerced abortions is a major problem in human trafficking, and that many of these coerced abortions are performed by Planned Parenthood. Notably the study reports one of the survivors saying, “At least one of my abortions was from Planned Parenthood because they didn’t ask any questions.”
LiveAction’s newest report, supported by their video work, details the pervasive culture in Planned Parenthood of covering up human trafficking and child sexual abuse. One video shows several former staff members of Planned Parenthood talking about how they were told to ignore clear signs of abuse, coercion, and the trafficking of young girls. A former Health/Title X Training Manager says, “Planned Parenthood actually allows victims of human trafficking to be victims of human trafficking. And they’re ok with that.” All of this evidence is compounded by LiveAction’s newest video, detailing the stories of abuse of several young girls by older men, and Planned Parenthood’s complicity in covering up their abuse.
There are signs of hope in ending one of the largest taxpayer funded gravy trains that supports Planned Parenthood. Proposed Title X regulations would deny Title X grant funding to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that commit abortions or refer for abortions, but it also requires organizations that receive Title X funds to follow state mandatory reporting laws. This seems like common sense, but before this new rule, the Title X regulation merely suggested that Title X recipients follow the law.
Along with our state and national alliance, Family Policy Alliance has been pushing for Title X funds to be withdrawn from abortion providers and for an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s illegal practices for years. If you haven’t yet, thank President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services for proposing this new regulation to Title X. This is a huge step in the right direction, but we must continue to urge Congress to completely defund Planned Parenthood. We are thankful for your partnership as we all continue to fight for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance
Sitting in the majority of coffeeshops across America, you will likely hear someone complain about politicians who can’t set aside party politics to get anything worthwhile done. However, our state ally, Minnesota Family Council, proved that it is possible to work across party lines last week. A Minnesota Family Council-backed bill to help the state more fully understand the link between human trafficking and pornography passed unanimously through both the state House and Senate!
Strong criminal laws against human trafficking are not enough. Too often these laws are not enforced, and they do little to stop the demand for trafficked persons.
We need to better understand what drives demand in order to prevent trafficking. Studies are beginning to show that, perhaps unsurprisingly, pornography conditions the brain to dehumanize others, priming users to become sex buyers.
Further, what many people don’t realize is that the subjects in pornographic works are being trafficked or were trafficked as children. However, without clear statistics on what is happening in this illicit trade, it is difficult to convince legislators to take action to end it.
Legislators in ten states have already recognized that pornography is a public health crisis. Minnesota decided to take the next step in the fight to end human trafficking by addressing what drives demand. The bill requires the state to gather data on the link between pornography and human trafficking. The legislation, S.B. 2554, requires that statistics about the use of pornography in human trafficking be added to the state’s already existing human trafficking report, and assesses an additional fine on those convicted of child pornography crimes and the dissemination and display of harmful materials to minors. Any money raised through this additional fine will be given to Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Program, which helps victims of human trafficking.
There was not a single vote against this bill throughout the legislative process. Meredith Campbell, Public Policy Director for Minnesota Family Council said of the bill signed by the Governor last Friday, “Preventing the commodification of humans is not a partisan issue. Dedicated Minnesotans from a variety of spheres, departments, and professions have been fighting against the sexual exploitation of women, girls, and boys in Minnesota for a long time. The leaders in this fight against sexual exploitation should be applauded today for their steadfast efforts to ensure that women and girls are treated with dignity and respect.”
When both sides come together incredible things can happen. Not everyone believes as we do—that every person is created with inherent dignity and worth, made in the image of God. But even unbelievers can see the need to protect human dignity, even if they don’t understand that that dignity comes from being God’s creation.
Minnesota’s new law is a huge step forward in protecting that inherent dignity and beginning to roll back the scourge of human trafficking and pornography.
If you live in Minnesota, please make sure you are connected with Minnesota Family Council to help with their efforts against human trafficking and pornography in your state.
If Minnesota is not your home state, we hope you’ll partner with Family Policy Alliance and our other state allies to advance legislation similar to Minnesota’s in your states.
By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance
Pop culture would have us believe that pornography is funny, normal and ok to use, and doesn’t really hurt anyone. The reality is that viewing pornography is linked to a host of mental and physical health issues. It is also linked with the horrible exploitation of human beings in the sex trafficking industry. Pornography is used to increase demand for sex trafficking victims, to groom victims, and creates additional revenue streams for traffickers. This industry continues to devastate men, women, and families—and it’s no joking matter.
Several states are calling pornography what it is: a public health crisis. Ten states – Arkansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Louisiana, Kansas, Idaho, Florida, and Pennsylvania – have already passed resolutions declaring pornography as a public health crisis. These resolutions recognize the destruction that the consumption of pornography wreaks on the brain, the family, and especially its horrific impacts on children. These resolutions urge members of state and federal leadership to take action to protect children and families. At least nine other states have introduced similar resolutions this year. Family Policy Alliance and our state allies have been working with state legislatures to pass these resolutions with the goal of helping our leaders understand the porn crisis across the country.
However, state legislators must do more than just pass a resolution if there is ever going to be true progress in combatting industries that exploit human beings. Our ally, Minnesota Family Council, decided to take the next step towards ending sex trafficking and America’s addiction to pornography by introducing legislation that recognizes the link between human trafficking and pornography, requires that statistics about the use of pornography in human trafficking be added to the state’s already existing human trafficking report, and assesses an additional fine on those convicted of child pornography crimes and the dissemination and display of harmful materials to minors. Funds the state receives from this additional fine will be given to Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Program, which helps victims of human trafficking.
Meredith Campbell, Policy Director for Minnesota Family Council, explained how legislators on both sides of the aisle are working together to prevent sexual exploitation in her state:
“Legislators are increasingly recognizing the massive role pornography plays in contributing to human trafficking by driving the demand and grooming victims. Now they’re taking action to publicly acknowledge the link between these horrors. Bills like this one are uniting legislators in their fight against exploitation, for the good of all Minnesotans.”
There is also movement on the federal front through legislation known as the FOSTA-SESTA Act. The bill amends current federal law so that host sites can be held legally responsible for illegal activity that occurs on their websites. In response to the bill’s passage, Craigslist already ended their “personal ads” section. Just last week, Attorney General Sessions shut down Backpage.com, a major site that has helped fuel prostitution and sex trafficking of minors.
With pornography fueling trafficking and exploitation—and of course creating personal and family crises—it will take the family of believers working together to really restore dignity, human worth, and life back into our culture. No one can stop trafficking on their own, but we’d like to ask you to commit with us to three simple steps you can take in your community:
- Commit to exhorting your church to NOT ignore the porn crisis, but instead to stand in the gap for those who are struggling. Does your church have a ministry to help victims or users of porn? Does your pastor (or other teachers) address pornography? Will your church be willing to support a good bill, like the one led by our friends at Minnesota Family Council, by encouraging legislators to pass the bill? These are conversations the Church needs to have.
- Commit to supporting good bills like the one in Minnesota in your own state. You can do this by asking legislators to support it. Part of our mission at Family Policy Alliance (and our state allies) is to keep you informed when good bills to help end the porn crisis (or bad bills) come up in your state. Please be sure you and your loved ones are signed up so you can receive state-specific action alerts!
- Consider donating to support our policy work, including research and drafting of good policies to help stop the porn crisis.
Family Policy Alliance and many other groups are urging the new administration to address sexual exploitation as they take office in January.
The group, which includes Paul Weber of Family Policy Alliance, Alan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, has penned a letter to help the new leadership understand that “America is suffering from a sexual exploitation crisis.”
They are asking that “through the presidential appointment process, presidential directives and policies,” the federal government address “the full spectrum of harm” being done to our society.
The letter will be sent to Vice President-elect Mike Pence.