PORTSMOUTH — In a continued effort to eradicate human trafficking, national organization, United Methodist Women (UMW) is launching their annual Super Bowl Campaign of an Umbrella Defense. Scioto County Church Women United (CWU) has joined in to support the efforts.
Susie Johnson, Executive for Public Policy Leader, Human Trafficking Initiative, said UMW joined the fight against human trafficking in 1999.
“United Methodist Women have been actively engaged in the fight against human trafficking since 1999,” Johnson said. “In 2009 we created a Human Trafficking Team comprised of member leaders from around the country to advance both public awareness and changes in public policy. To date the UMW Human Trafficking Team, has outreached to over 36,000 people.”
UMW deems the Super Bowl game day as the ideal platform to make an impact, and spread awareness about the crime of human trafficking.
“The Super Bowl, the most visible sporting day in America, provides a platform for United Methodist Women to highlight how we all are impacted by the crime—whether we buy cheap t-shirts, or candy, whether we eat shrimp, or get our nails don, we all need to be cognizant that trafficking is about both labor and sexual exploitation. And the Super Bowl empowers us in making the connections that can lead to transformation,” Johnson said.
The UMW Super Bowl Campaign is six-years strong, creating awareness through partnerships among many groups.
“And, six years ago we launched our annual Super Bowl Campaign to foster community wide awareness and to build partnerships with local organization, public officials, and other faith based entities. The Super Bowl provides a vehicle to draw attention to the crime of trafficking and to expand our engagement with men,” Johnson said. “Each year we conceptualize a highly visible action that our members and partners can undertake as part of our awareness efforts. We have Huddled Against and, we have Iced the Traffickers, and this year we are creating a virtual “Umbrella Defense” against traffickers. Our Super Bowl action always connects to football plays or terminology.”
The Umbrella Defense was created in 1950 by New York Giants coach Steve Owen, helped the Giants shut out the Cleveland Browns, according to Johnson. UMW recognizes that large sporting events do not cause human trafficking, but rather they are enlarged arena in which trafficking can be exacerbated.
Shelby Powell of Scioto County Church Women United, said they want to be proactive, and support the UMW Umbrella Defense efforts.
“We are glad to join with United Methodist Women to make people aware of human trafficking, and even domestic violence in our area. This is a problem that is all over the world, and we want to stand with our sisters, and work towards preventing, and even eradicating particularly human trafficking, where it involves so many young girls too. I suspect this also involves boys, but I don’t know, but I know that our conference, the United Methodist Church has been involved with this for several years. We just want to do our part as United Methodist Women from Cornerstone United Methodist Church to stand with our sisters in supporting their effort in eradicating human trafficking.”
Johnson said UMW is resolute regarding their stance the deplorable crime of human trafficking.
“Together our actions ensure that we give public witness and public voice for policies which guarantee adequate resources are made available that effectively respond to survivor trauma, that we decriminalize those at risk of being victimized by trafficking, and that we strengthen prosecution of the guilty. United Methodist Women is resolute in its stance against the exploitation of those who are forced to submit to civil to meet their basic needs or as a result of their position in society.
Johnson also said that more than 20 million people internationally have fallen victim to human trafficking, and the epidemic has become the second largest criminal activity behind the sale of illicit drugs. As advocates for social justice, United Methodist Women will continue to work towards ending cruel trade and fight for the rights of those exploited by it.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.