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Klobuchar, Cindy McCain fight Super Bowl sex trafficking

ST. PAUL — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, met with National Football League officials Friday, trying to reduce sex trafficking that usually accompanies Super Bowl games.

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“We often think of human trafficking as a problem that occurs half a world away, but the reality is it’s happening in our own backyard, including at big events like the Super Bowl,” said Klobuchar, D-Minn. “That’s why Cindy and I asked the NFL to support strong sex trafficking laws, and I was pleased that they have made their support clear.”

Klobuchar is pushing federal legislation modeled in part after a Minnesota law that requires officials to treat people forced into the sex trade as victims, not criminals.

The women’s NFL meeting comes before the Super Bowl, professional football’s championship game, scheduled for Feb. 2 in New Jersey.

Klobuchar’s office reports that the Super Bowl “has become a magnet for sex trafficking, with ads for girls surging 300 percent during the days surrounding the event.”

The NFL said it is working with local and federal law enforcement to combat forced labor and prostitution around the Super Bowl.

“Year after year, we see a troubling surge of sex trafficking during the Super Bowl,” McCain said. “With the Super Bowl coming to Arizona next year, I’ll be working closely with legislators, law enforcement and advocacy organizations to address this problem head-on and do everything we can to prevent and crack down on sex trafficking.”

McCain, whose husband was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, is co-chairwoman of the Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking.

The bill Klobuchar and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, sponsor would not affect this Super Bowl, but is designed to give prosecutors muscle to crack down on domestic minor sex trafficking. It also would encourage youths involved in trafficking to get help.

Klobuchar’s office reports that in Minnesota recent reports indicate that on any given night dozens of underage girls are sold for sex online. The average age of a child when she first becomes a victim is 13.