PHOENIX -- With the Super Bowl coming to Glendale, Ariz., in 2015, a member of the U.S. State Department is coming to the Valley to help lend a hand with combating human trafficking.
Ambassador Luis Cdebaca is head of the anti-human trafficking office and President Obama's senior adviser on issues that relate to human trafficking. He will be meeting with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and members of the newly created Human Trafficking Task Force on Friday to discuss ways to combat the issue.
Cdebaca said human trafficking, whether for labor or the sex trade, is often linked in proximity to the Super Bowl but is an issue that persists independently of the big game.
"Human trafficking was happening before the Super Bowl was announced, and human trafficking will unfortunately be happening after the Super Bowl is over," Cdebaca said. "We have to be vigilant to recognize the victims of modern slavery."
Cdebaca added, though, that the attention the Super Bowl brings to the issue is beneficial.
He said with Arizona being a border state, it can be a hotbed for recruitment and the service of human trafficking.
"Whether it's men, women, girls, boys trapped in prostitution, whether it's folks in strip clubs (or) folks in the sex industry, (they) need to be looked at to see (if) they need help," Cdebaca said.
Reducing demand is a critical aspect of mitigating the human trafficking trade, and Cdebaca said one of the focal points of the Phoenix meeting will be to make an appeal toward men in the state.
"Men need to take a stand against this type of exploitation," he said. "That's really what we're going to be talking about: Issuing a challenge as it were to men that they need to stand up and they need to deal with this."