Community Foundation of New Jersey

CFNJ Donors Fight Human Trafficking with Soap

August 7, 2013

The Community Foundation of New Jersey first started talking about combating human trafficking in New Jersey last year in an aptly titled piece, “Human Trafficking Comes to New Jersey.”  There we told you that New Jersey’s proximity to New York City, extensive transportation network, and diverse population make it a hub for all forms of human trafficking.

Now the Community Foundation’s donors are committing to fight human trafficking in a meaningful way, with our sites set squarely on Super Bowl 2014.  Scroll down for more information on this important partnership and how you can support efforts to stop human trafficking.

Why the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl 2014 is just around the corner. As New Jersey prepares to host the largest annual sporting event in the country, law enforcement officials are already seeing an increase in the forced prostitution that often accompanies major sporting events. Based on the sheer number of people expected to attend Super Bowl XLVIII, the demand for commercial sex trafficking is expected to spike during the event and in surrounding weeks. Coordinated efforts among law enforcement officials and concerned organizations are taking the lead in combating what is already a major problem in the state.

What is the Community Foundation doing?

With an expected rise in human trafficking incidents and increased demand that the Super Bowl will bring to our state, CFNJ sees this as a vital opportunity to crack down on forced prostitution, raise awareness of the issue, and reach out to the victims of human trafficking.

CFNJ is supporting the fight against human trafficking with a high-impact Leadership Grant for Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.). Founded by Theresa Flores, a survivor of human trafficking, S.O.A.P. is part of a three-pronged approach initiated by the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking. S.O.A.P. is an innovative tactic that provides direct outreach and assistance for victims as well as training, resources, and awareness for motel operators. Here’s how it works: in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, S.O.A.P. will distribute thousands of soap bars to participating motels. Each bar of soap will be wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number. Trained volunteers will also provide operators of “high risk” motels (under $100 per night) with posters of missing children from the area, key-identifying questions and an overview of what’s happening to young girls in their motels. Motels are also provided with Red Flag brochures for maid’s carts to help identify the signs of human trafficking.

Does S.O.A.P. work?

S.O.A.P.’s efforts have already proven successful. During the Super Bowl in Indianapolis last year, volunteers approached 151 motel operators, and 113 out took the S.O.A.P. materials. Combined with 87 hotels that preordered the soap, a total of 200 hotels took soap materials and agreed to participate in the campaign. At the same time, local back-page ads for commercial sex soared from an average of 22 to 269 during the event. As a direct result of S.O.A.P.’s efforts, four missing teens were identified by motel staff, two teens were rescued and returned home, and one teen was identified working in a strip club.

Who are we working with?

S.O.A.P.’s partners include the Polaris Project, a leading organization in fighting human trafficking on a global scale. S.O.A.P. is also operated in partnership with the Junior Leagues of New Jersey State Public Affairs Committee, which is working through the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, as well as DOMA International and Traffickfree, which also provide rehabilitation services for victims of human trafficking.

What can you do?

CFNJ is dedicated to combating human trafficking and the devastating effects that it has on victims, families and communities. We are asking all New Jerseyans to send a strong message to the perpetrators of human trafficking and to provide hope and outreach services for victims. Through your support for the S.O.A.P. campaign and its partner organizations, we can offer immediate assistance and potentially save lives.

To support this effort, email Hans at hdekker@cfnj.org.