Sex trafficking at the big game: Strip club workers get awareness training

It's not a typical partnership -- strip club owners and Homeland Security teaming up to crack down on sex traffickers as the Super Bowl rolls into town.

On Friday, representatives from Homeland Security met with valley strip club workers to show them what to watch out for.

About 20 agents talked to club managers.  We weren't allowed in the training, but officials say the workshop helps strip club workers look for signs that women are being forced to strip or are underage.

The average age of girls entering the sex trade is 13. Children are being passed for adults forced into sex work.

It's something authorities worry could increase in Phoenix leading up to the Super Bowl and Homeland Security sent some of their agents to raise awareness.

Scarlet cords are a symbol of pain -- victims of sex trafficking face.

"The scars that are inside my spirit.. those are the scars that hurt the most," said Carolyn Jones, a sex trafficking survivor.

Jones was trafficked on the streets of Phoenix since she was 15.  Now she's helping cut the ribbon to an art installation, raising awareness about sex trafficking a week before the Super Bowl.

"Knowing that football.. that Super Bowl was going to be here, my money and my attitude would be, there is going to be some money in this town and I'm going to get paid," she said.

Homeland Security officials are aware the secret sex world could make its way to valley strip clubs.  That's why they're training employees on how to identify human trafficking.

Phoenix strip club manager James Nordstrom isn't part of the training, but says being aware of sex traffickers is a reality of his business.

"You are always going to have people like that trying to come in here.  We keep an eye out for it, make sure we double check IDs, make sure the people we are talking to are reputable.. we don't deal with thugs and pimps any of that," he said.

Jones just wants everyone from strip club doormen to football fans to keep an eye out for victims -- for the girl she once was.

"If you see something, say something.  Be aware, don't get so caught up in the hype of the football that you're missing some girl that's crying out and we don't really see it.  So if we see something, say something."

The sex trafficking art installation is located in the Roosevelt Row Art District and is free to the public from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.  It runs through Super Bowl weekend.

The Scarlet Cord: Healing for Sex Trafficked Children
Jan. 23 - Feb. 1, 10am - 9pm
813 N. 1st St.
Phoenix, AZ
www.streetlightusa.org

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