A home away from home for some can be a traumatic place for others. According to a recent study, 1,434 cases of human trafficking occurred in hotels and motels between 2007 and 2015. Hotels are one of the most common venues reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline mainly due to a buyer’s ease of access, their ability to pay in cash, and lack of upkeep expenses. Alongside Polaris and End Child Trafficking and Prostitution-USA, Marriott has now taken the initiative to help change the startling statistics of human trafficking in the United States.
President and CEO of Marriott International Arne Sorenson published an article last week explaining how an employee noticed two men trafficking a 12-year-old boy. Sorenson realized hotels often become trafficking hubs, so he decided to help stop the trend.
“It is an unfortunate reality that traffickers sometimes use hotels to exploit victims and commit their crimes. But rather than wish it were otherwise, we decided to make our 6,000-plus properties worldwide part of the solution,” said Sorenson.
Sorenson further explained how human trafficking training, translated into 15 different languages and tailored to specific roles, has recently become mandatory for all employees. This training will help staff understand the signs of human trafficking, reporting procedures, and prevention strategies.
“We want the associates in our hotels to be aware of the scale of human trafficking, our commitment to stopping it, to learn the many indicators or unusual behaviors of traffickers, and to report suspicions to management, who in turn, alert local authorities,” said Sorenson.
Marriott maintains a strong commitment to human rights. All employees must complete training sessions concerning human rights and the protection of children during their onboarding process. The company will also partner with national, state and local law enforcement agencies to report and investigate possible cases of child sexual exploitation at its hotels.
In reality, this isn’t the first time Marriott has helped those affected by human trafficking. Marriott partnered with Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) in 2014, and the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation still hosts events for OUR. Furthermore, Marriott helped Youth Career Initiative (YCI) obtain a $250,000 grant from the US Department of State’s Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons. This grant helped to rehabilitate trafficking survivors into the YCI program and also helped to provide awareness training for the Marriott staff.
The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct is a joint enterprise between the tourism private sector and End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT). The code is the only set of voluntary business principles that travel and tour companies can implement to prevent child trafficking and sex tourism. Marriott signed this code, joining the efforts to end human trafficking.
According to an ECPAT press release, Marriott has helped train over 225,000 employees regarding human trafficking. ECPAT executive director Carol Smolenski believes the partnership will help draw the public’s attention to an increasingly prevalent movement.
“With ECPAT-USA’s policies and training in place, Marriott’s associates will be able to identify and report potential cases of trafficking and bring protection to victims,” said Smolenski. “As an iconic brand, Marriott International’s deep commitment to human rights and social responsibility will generate public awareness and support for the growing movement to end child sex trafficking.”
You can also join the fight to end human trafficking. If you spot a possible instance of human trafficking or have become a trafficking victim, text Polaris at the confidential BeFree line (233733).
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