SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CBS SF) — The arrival of the Super Bowl to the Bay Area is increasing awareness of human trafficking related to the event.
San Francisco International Airport held training sessions for airline and airport personnel Monday to recognize the signs of human trafficking. The training sessions were the first in a series scheduled for all major Bay Area airports.
In a statement, SFO said the classes were timed to address the potential for trafficking activity related to Super Bowl 50.
At SFO Monday, trafficking survivor and American Airlines flight attendant Donna Lynne Hubbard shared with KPIX 5 her story of being a mother of three by the age of 20 “looking for acceptance in all the wrong places.”
“There’s nothing glamorous about waking up in the morning and wishing you didn’t wake up because you know what the rest of the day holds for you,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard said she was trafficked from Atlanta to LA and multiple cities in between. “But when I woke up in a room full of men climbing on top of me one at a time, I realized that nothing is worth selling my soul,” said Hubbard. “But by then, the shame and the guilt was overwhelming.”
Preventing this from happening to anyone else is her mission, especially as the Super Bowl approaches. While there have been many claims about the effect of a Super Bowl on the amount of prostitution in the host city, a 2011 study by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women showed that large sporting events do not cause an increase in trafficking for prostitution.
“It would be a misnomer to just say that by having a Super Bowl, it means there’s an automatic increase to trafficking,” said Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition founder Betty Ann Boeving. “It actually is an increase in awareness of the issue.”
Airplanes are an easy way for pimps to traffic people. Signs of trafficking to look can be if someone lacks luggage or personal items, is accompanied by someone far better-dressed, or if they’re fearful of security personnel.
“So often on the airplane and in the airport, what we see are women who are victims who don’t always understand that they are being victimized or what’s getting ready to happen to them,” said Hubbard.
Airline travelers who suspect someone is being forced against their will and may be a victim of human trafficking are urged to tell a flight attendant or airport authority.
“(We are) trying to send the deterrent message to traffickers that the Bay Area is going to be a very difficult place for them to do business,” said Boving.