January 31, 2014

ASU project monitors sex trafficking of young women

Posted: January 31, 2014
Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research director Dominque Roe-Sepowitz
Dominque Roe-Sepowitz talks with College of Public Programs dean Jonathan Koppell following a meeting of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research team.
Photo by: Paula Maturana

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, associate professor in Arizona State University's School of Social Work, is leading a project to identify effective strategies to combat sex trafficking using one of the largest events tied to prostitution – the Super Bowl. 

She told Bloomberg News that the Super Bowl is an especially lucrative opportunity for criminal organizations because of the affluence of the male-dominated crowd it attracts. Roe-Sepowitz said bringing prostitutes in from out of town is part of the circuit used by sex traffickers who move from city to city to avoid law enforcement.

The research project is an effort of the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research in the School of Social Work within the College of Public Programs. With the financial backing of Cindy McCain and the McCain Institute, the office has hired an intelligence contractor that normally provides analysis on secretive military and criminal operations. Praescient Analytics, based in Alexandria, Va., is using its expertise to help track gangs and other criminal groups involved in sex trafficking at the Super Bowl.

“Sex trafficking is a really hard-to-see problem,” Praescient's Dan Potocki told Bloomberg News. “That’s where our experience working with other hard-to-see problems like terrorism can help."

Preliminary data show that prostitutes from all over the nation were in the New York City area for the Super Bowl played on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The research project on sex trafficking will continue through next year’s Super Bowl, which will be played in Glendale, Ariz. The data collected at this year's Super Bowl will be analyzed to develop effective strategies to reduce the sex trafficking of young women when the event is held in Arizona.

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