Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Should Hotels Be Enlisted to Fight Human Trafficking?

            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.


  1. This was a very shocking blog. I have heard of human trafficking before but was not aware that is was a big problem in the United States. To learn that this problem is highly identifiable as close as St. Louis was hard to stomach. I think that hotels should do something to combat human trafficking. I understand that many hotels would not want to literature about human trafficking because it may make customers uneasy, however they should do something to help the cause. My friend works for a hotel, and he is trained to look for prostitution. They are trained to look for different signs. Such as a women frequenting the hotel but with different male suitors. I think that hotels should be active in the trying to stop human trafficking.

  2. Reading this article left me very unsettled, and kind of upset actually. I am disgusted by the fact that trafficking happens. It is one of the things in the world that breaks my heart the most. Reading this made it even worse, because I knew it was not exempt from our country, but just not as prevalent as somewhere like Thailand. There has to be some way for hotels to step their game up for this. I have never thought about getting hotels involved, but that's because I haven't been doing anything to help or even think about this issue much. That is another problem too! Thanks for writing this, it definitely makes me want to try and help!

  3. It is amazing that this type of activity is so close to us and we didn't even realize it. The more people are educated about human trafficking the more it can be combated. This woman is very courageous for her actions. I wouldn't have even thought to start with hotels as a way to stop the exploitation of these children. The power of the internet is truly amazing. To think that females as young as twelve are being trafficked in the United States deeply disturbs me. The one part in this blog that upset me is the lack of cooperation that hotels are willing to give. It is another reminder that industry and businesses put money before the welfare of others. As I have learned in other classes human trafficking is not a problem that is just happening in third world countries. It happens everyday in the United States.

  4. I think it is a good idea to get all hotels involved, whether or not there has been evidence of trafficking at their particular location. I feel this is a taboo subject, and just by getting the information out there, to both the hotels and their guests, it helps to spread more knowledge about this serious problem. Hopefully by informing more individuals of the issues and perhaps telling them what to be on the lookout for, it can help reduce the sex trafficking trade.