Cindy McCain to unveil anti-trafficking billboards

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- The wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain will present a billboard campaign to combat human trafficking.

Cindy McCain is set Monday to unveil one of a series of digital billboards in Phoenix promoting a telephone hotline for trafficking victims.

"[Human trafficking] is a huge problem," she told 3TV's Scott Pasmore Monday morning. "The trouble is most people don't believe it even exists within their own state. They assume it's in Cambodia or Mexico or some other place -- not here in Arizona.

"These terrible cartels are moving primarily kids around the country -- both boys and girls -- for sex," she continued. "It's abuse beyond belief. ... We've not had significant legislation in place to really stop these guys."

Cindy McCain is collaborating with the Polaris Project, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit.

Polaris officials say the 24-hour, confidential hotline leads to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

The hotline is for community members who want to give anonymous tips as well as for trafficking survivors.

Clear Channel Outdoor, which is donating billboard space, says about 50 billboards in metropolitan Phoenix will feature the hotline.

"This is a huge initiative by Clear Channel," Cindy McCain said, explaining that the digital billboards will be up through the 2015 Super Bowl, which will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Cindy McCain chairs the Arizona Governor's Task Force on Human Trafficking, which was established last April.

"The creation of this task force is a testament to Governor Brewer's commitment against trafficking in Arizona," she wrote on the governor's website. "I have travelled internationally working on anti-trafficking and am anxious to make a difference in my home state."

She has called for Arizona lawmakers to enact tougher penalties for human traffickers.

"It takes more than just legislation to work on this," she told Pasmore. "It's been an education process. It's been a process of making people understand why it's important, why we should care."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.