The New York Giants and the New England Patriots aren't the only ones prepping for Super Bowl Sunday: so is the Congregation of the Sister of St. Joseph of Cleveland.
The Ohio-based congregation is joining ten other orders in an effort to increase awareness of and stop sex trafficking during Super Bowl XLVI weekend in Indianapolis.
WKYC TV reports that the nuns are working with some 220 hotels within a 50-mile radius of the Super Bowl stadium to help managers identify victims of sex trafficking.
'Someone has to take this on'
We want to share with the traffickers that we will be watching, Sister Marilyn Nickol told WKYC.
The sisters of St. Joseph have been planning to travel to Indianapolis, In. for the Super Bowl since the NFL opened up training camp last summer.
We thought, someone has to do this, added Sister Anne Victory, the education coordinator of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. Someone has to take this on.
The federal government estimates that $15 billion is generated each year in sex trafficking in the U.S. And Super Bowl weekend is the largest underage sex trafficking event in the country annually.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that some 10,000 sex workers were brought into Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl. These are predominantly adult women who assert that they have voluntarily become sex workers.
At that same Super Bowl, however, 133 underage prostitutes were arrested by police, and the National Center estimates that hundreds are likely to have slipped under the radar.
Sex Trafficking At Super Bowl
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Attorney general Greg Zoeller and child advocates including Shared Hope International President Linda Smith have banded together to try and keep Indianapolis safe for sports fans and underage victims alike.
On Monday, Gov. Daniels pushed through legislation that makes it a felony to recruit, harbor or transport a child under 16 with the intent to engage in prostitution, and gives much higher penalties for anyone who sells or transfers custody of a child.
This same legislation also includes provisions to protect minors who have been victimized from being charged with prostitution by the courts.
On the ground, meanwhile, Indianapolis director of public safety Frank Straub has been training everyone from police officers to hotel security on how to spot potential trafficking victims online, in hotel lobbies, at sports bars and even in the Super Bowl stadium.
Clearly it's a human trafficking issue of children [who] are being brought into our city to engage in the sex trade, Straub told Forbes.
This isn't just about keeping people from engaging a prostitute. It's about protecting that prostitute from being forced to do anything against her will.
St. Joseph's Nuns
But as much as local law enforcement and the state government will try to keep people safe during Super Bowl XLVI, there's only so much people like Frank Straub can do once sex traffickers go behind closed doors.
Hotels are the prime location for sex trafficking and sex work, and if advertisements for sexual services are any indication, thousands of people will be swarming into Indianapolis to engage in total satisfaction from young and curvy women.
That's where the nuns come in.
Hailing from congregations as far-flung as Kalamazoo, Mich., the 11 orders are determined to raise awareness about Super Bowl sex trafficking, make sure hotel staff are educated on the issue and receive training, and make materials about the prevalence of sex trafficking available not only in hotel lobbies, but in guests' rooms as well.
And so far, the nuns report that hotel responses have been overwhelming positive.
'If one woman is saved, it will all be worth it'
Of the 220 hotels the women contacted, 200 hotel managers reached out and provided answers to questions asked by the orders, and 99 managers asked for materials to distribute in their hotels, according to Suburban Life.
These materials included brochures about human trafficking for guests, copies of the Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) Code of Conduct, and local anti-trafficking contact information, including 24-hour victim assistance hotlines and where to find safehouses.
Seven hotel managers even asked the nuns to help with additional training prior to Super Bowl 2012, to help employees recognize trafficking situations and learn how to assist victims.
According to Straub, the nuns have begun reaching out to Indianapolis cab drivers, as well.
We are very gratified by the responses from hotel managers and pleased that they made time to talk and work with us in this very busy season, said Sister Ann Oestreich of Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sister Ann is co-chair of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan.
We're here for the most vulnerable in society, Sister Nancy Conway added in a statement to WKYC. If one woman is saved at the Super Bowl, it will all be worth it.
If you suspect someone is being trafficked, you are encouraged to report it to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Call 9-1-1 if you believe someone is in immediate danger.