MIAMI (CBSMiami)- While the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee gears up for the big game in Miami next February, they are also addressing a very serious issue here in South Florida, sex trafficking.
Florida is third in the nation and Miami leads the state in sex trafficking.
It’s a 32 billion dollar organized crime industry that takes advantage of the most vulnerable.
“Sex trafficking is not an offshore problem. This is here. It’s happening 365 days a year it’s hidden in plain sight all the time,” said Kathy Anderson, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade.
The statistics are quite heartbreaking, as traffickers prey on our most vulnerable girls and boys forcing them into sex trafficking completely against their will.
- 40 percent of victims are minors
- 96 percent of those are girls
- 60 percent of the adults are between the ages of 18 to 24
The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade has been battling this issue for years, heading up awareness campaigns, partnering with law enforcement, lending support to organizations with real life warriors, former victims, now helping others get out and start a new life, like Shanika Ampah.
“I was always on the run trying to find something. At age 18, when I ran away from my last pimp I ran into my first charge of prostitution,” Ampah said. “At some point, you’ve got to stop running. And that’s why I am very adamant about what I do now, to make sure that survivors know where their resources are.”
The Women’s Fund has a new partner tackling the issue this year, the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. The committee is adding new resources and building awareness leading up to Super Bowl LIV here next year.
Ray Martinez is Vice President of Operations for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee and he says they will be “alerting drivers of ride sharing businesses, taxi drivers, bus drivers, the restaurant and the hotel industry, to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior.”
Martinez adds that the partnership goal is to be able to put something in place that lasts after the game.
On May 23, The Women’s Fund hosts its biggest fundraiser, ‘The Power of the Purse’ luncheon, to kick off the Super Bowl partnership.
Attendees will hear from survivors like Ampah, sharing her powerful story.
“I found my worth. I returned back to school and got an education. I began to love myself and how much I am valued as an individual, and walking away from that lifestyle,” said Ampah.
The message is clear, if you see something, say something.
To report a suspected incident or to seek help in Miami-Dade you can dial 211. You can also visit The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade for more information.