By Ben Rivera
This is not a sports story.
Patriots fans – before you start waving your Barstool banners or T-shirts of “Free Kraft,” put the fanhood aside and think of the bigger picture for just a few minutes.
Draped in the same blue and red that was supposed to represent hope when President Obama was initially running for office.
All the jokes about the situation are simply disgusting.
Sex trafficking is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly.
What Robert Kraft is accused of doing is a small portion of a global issue.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and the workers have no choice in what they do.
Just to be clear, I know Kraft is not one of the people running the trafficking ring, that goes from China to New York to Florida, but he was charged with soliciting prostitution. Kraft allegedly visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida to receive sexual favors twice. He even went right before the Patriots’ AFC Championship victory against the Kansas City Chiefs.
There is a chance that Mr. Kraft may have not been aware of the operation, but what he apparently did is still illegal.
We already know he’s just going walk away with a slap on the wrist, but we shouldn’t give him a pass and ignore the seriousness of his actions.
He was seemingly willing to purchase sexual favors.
As long as there are people willing to do that, there will always be people willing to provide the service by any means necessary.
The only benefit that we get from Robert Kraft and other big names from being busted in this sting, is the fact that it has brought much needed attention to the issue.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 24.9 million human trafficking victims in the world, as of 2016.
Why did it take an owner of a NFL team getting caught for this to start getting attention? It’s not as though it’s an issue that isn’t hitting close to home.
It could have just as easily been you or me.
When I was younger, whenever I would get into a big fight with my parents, the thought of running away would often come across my mind. Another thing I used to do in my rebellious days would be to sneak out of the house whenever they told me I couldn’t go somewhere.
The consequences could have been much worse than facing the wrath of my mother.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there were 18,500 recorded runaways. One in six of them were likely victims of sex trafficking. Almost 90 percent of child sex trafficking victims were in foster care or involved with social services when they went missing.
I have an issue when we as a society give people a pass for this kind of thing. I have an issue when we are totally fine with a company plastering Robert Kraft’s grin on a shirt, in the same manner as Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster.
When I look at the red and blue painted across someone’s face, I expect them to be a symbol of hope and patriotism. To put a man, who contributed to the injustice of slavery, on merchandise, is an insult to what those colors symbolize
And that is disgraceful.
During his time in office, President Obama took action to begin to break the silence on human trafficking. His administration created the first U.S Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. He appointed 11 human trafficking survivors to the council.
In Kraft’s corner, is the successor to President Obama.
In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Fight Online Sexual Trafficking Act (FOSTA). The name of the act pretty much explains its purpose.
It seemed like a great step in the right direction at first glance. Upon further review, you’ll see that everything that glitters isn’t gold.
Trump uses the act to fuel his agenda. Can you guess what it is?
Possibly fueled by racism, it all comes back to the wall that he has been promising. He tries to sell the idea that building a wall would stop human trafficking in the United States. He’s blaming it on immigration through the Southern border.
President Trump should actually combat sexual violence and slavery, instead of using it as a rocket towards building his wall.
It’s not like we haven’t seen this before.
In 1910, President William Howard Taft signed the White-Slave Traffic Act, also known as the Mann Act, to battle sex trafficking of females.
Instead of doing what it was originally made for, it ended up stimulating anti-immigration policies further, and harmed men, women, and sex workers, for having consensual sex.
History seems to always repeat itself, and we need to start moving in a new direction and learn from the past.
Instead of constantly joking about the situation on social media, we should open the floodgates to drown out the ignorance and start spreading awareness, so we can take a step towards the end of slavery.
We have to do better.
Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated