When most people think of human trafficking they usually think of another country, especially third world countries where laws are not well maintained or kept. This is a myth that needs to be addressed more thoroughly here in the United States. Every day in the United States, women and children are being sexually abused as slaves. It is happening closer than you think.
The city where my article came from that talks of sex trafficking as a problem is only 2 hours from Bloomington/Normal. The city is St. Louis. Kimberly Ritter has been battling sex trafficking for the last 8 years. She is not doing it by busting down doors and making arrests, instead she is armed with her laptop. She goes to hotel lobbies looks through the advertisements of the local alternative newspaper. She then goes to the section advertising personal escorts, and massages and picks several to look through. She then finds their pictures on the internet.
She doesn’t look at the picture of the person advertising, but looks in depth at the background of the photo. She finds similarities in the photos of the exact hotel she is at, and has found evidence that children as young as 12 are being pimped out at the same hotel she is at. In St. Louis alone, Ritter has found at least 12 hotels where the photos have been taken. Ritter and the company she works for called Nix Conference & Meeting Management are encouraging hotels they regularly do business with to sign a code of conduct to protect children from trafficking. They want to teach hotels and their employees about human trafficking, and signs to look for in exploited children. They hope to start by getting 500 hotels to sign the code and get actively involved.
When Ritter talks to managers, they are typically in denial, and tell her that those sort of illegal activities are not going on in their hotel. Some are even offended that she would accuse them. She just pulls out her laptop and shows them the pictures of the advertisements, which were taken in their hotel.
You would think all hotels would be eager to help fight human trafficking, and want to sign the code, but in reality many are reluctant. By signing the code they are obligated to put literature in each room containing information about trafficking. They do not want to give their guests the wrong impression, making them think that that particular hotel is having a trafficking problem, when in reality they are not.
This article meant a lot to me. I am happy to hear that more and more people are getting involved in the fight against human trafficking. I hope that one day all hotels in the United States sign the code, and is involved in this battle. I understand why hotels are reluctant, but I think if more hotels were involved, customers would be aware that the information in their room is for the good of everyone and not think that hotel has a problem.
BY NANCY CAMBRIA • Nancy.Cambria@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8238 | Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2012 12:15 pm | Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/st-louis-area-hotels-enlisted-to-fight-sex-trade/article_61f3de86-9682-5e11-9eda-0434a6c28893.html#ixzz1noTUraed