Now Hotel Staffers Can Identify Victims of Trafficking

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Now Hotel Staffers Can Identify Victims of Trafficking

The hotel industry plays a significant role in fueling sex trafficking. Traffickers prefer hotels to operate because hotels allow them to dispatch girls without attracting unwanted attention. Where brothels look discreet and shady, hotels come across as a safer option for flesh trade.

However this shady business has finally come to light. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the state (Maharashtra) and hotel association has been signed to curb the heinous crime of flesh trade taking place within the walls of private hotels and rest houses. Hotels are replacing traditional brothels, and in lieu of this, drastic measures are called for in alliance with government.

Recently, the alumni group of Maharashtra State Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology has decided to educate its hotel staff in recognizing the possible victims of trafficking. The Maharashtra State Commission for Women is expected to offer training to an estimated 20 lakh hotels all over India that falls under alumni group, which is one of the largest chain of hotels in India.

In this context, “Sex trade needs a location for point of contact. Hotels are usually that point. If a staff is alert and spots a scared girl who does not produce an identity card or seems to be forced around by someone else, a possible trafficking victim has been identified,” says Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson of the women’s commission.

India is a hotbed for sex trafficking – it serves being both a supplier and consumer of trafficked women and children. Maharashtra and West Bengal are recorded as the biggest buyers – and in Maharashtra alone, 7597 missing women and children were rescued in the last three years.

As a result, hotel staff will be trained to remain alert if they find the tag of ‘Do Not Disturb’ hanging from the door knob of a hotel room for days at a stretch, or if any girl shows signs of discomfort or exhibit suspicious behavior at the time of check-in. Trafficked victims are often accompanied by agents – as a result, receptionists will be trained to spot a trafficked victim by her nature of dependency on the person she is accompanied by.

Moreover, as revealed by Sanee Awsermmel, chairman of the alumni group of Maharashtra State Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, staffers are going to be trained on 50 warning signs associated with flesh trade, such as excessive watching of porn, a male guest spending days with a minor in a room, frequent request to change bed linen and of course failure to produce valid identification proof by the girls.

The fight against trafficking is real. And hotels need to be a part of the solution.

“Everyone has a role in fighting human trafficking and preventing child sexual exploitation,” David Rodriguez, EVP and global chief human resources officer at Marriott International, said in a statement. “At Marriott International, we are training all of our associates on how to identify the indicators of human trafficking and partnering with ECPAT-USA and the broader industry to stop this crime from landing at our front doors and in our communities.”

Similarly, many other notable hospitality groups like Airbnb and Oyo rooms are coming forward with their training regimes to counter trafficking – and all of them are applaud worthy. Also, a mobile application named Rescue Me is underway – it will connect hotels with the nearest police stations and social workers.

Take action now. With a conscious effort from the society, organizations and individuals in power, it’s time to #EndDemand.

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