When the hotel behemoth Marriott International announced it was doing its part in the fight against sex trafficking by training more than 700,000 employees to spot the signs of potential trafficking in their guests earlier this year, the reaction wasn’t what the company expected. Vocal critics lambasted the initiative as misguided, if not outright discriminatory against sex workers — and even single female travelers.
Hotels and motels are often used by traffickers to facilitate forced commercial sex work and other labor — according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 74% of its potential sex trafficking cases between 2012 and 2016 were for hotel and motel-based sex trafficking. Solving the problem has become a topic of discussion in the industry. With hotels currently facing lawsuits from survivors of sex trafficking, companies including Marriott, Hyatt Hotels, Hilton, and Airbnb have publicly vowed to actively address the issue. Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton each initiated mandatory human trafficking awareness training programs — a move that some, including sex work advocates, say impedes hotel guests’ safety and freedom.
To develop its program, Marriott spent nearly a year working with two leading anti-trafficking organizations, ECPAT-USA and Polaris, …read more