Human Trafficking in Our Backyard
Written by Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM, Imagination+Meeting Planners Inc.
No, it couldn’t happen in major cities across Canada! Wrong. It is, and it will continue, and with technology it is a growing blight on humanity. And yes, it is happening in our hotels, at our conferences, at our events, and at our large sporting events. Yes, it is happening in well-known hotels and lesser known hotels, at truck stops and so many other places.
No, it isn’t all young girls trafficked from Southeast Asia, Russia, Ukraine. It is your next door neighbour’s teenage daughter, the girl down the street (boys too) and some of the girls are as young as 13. In fact, about 80% of trafficked girls are Canadian.
Do I have your attention? Here’s some direct data (US$). www.ilo.org
And this is the tip of the iceberg. Many trafficked people don’t get reported for an assortment of reasons.
After 2+ years of research, I held a breakfast, put together by my team including Ruth Abrahamson, Base Consulting; Gale Gingrich, CMP Retired, CAAP, The Gingrich Group; Robert Thompson, AVCanada; Catherine Paull, CMP, Catherine Paull Meetings Management; and Ellen Boddington, CMP CMM, Stellar Conference & Event Management Inc. We had over 40 people attend from corporate planners, to association planners to independents; from hotel security, front desk, sales, housekeeping.
Our speakers represented groups that work to end human/sex trafficking and included Kevin Porter, General Manager, Don Valley Hotel & Suites.
It’s a journey that became personal and professional for all those attending.
Did you know there are 29 types of sex and Labor Trafficking? Want to know what they are and what to look for? Go to www.polarisproject.org and read “The Typology of Modern Slavery”.
Do some research on your own. I’ve seen, heard and read much more than I ever cared to in the last 2+ years.
The important thing is, you, as a planner, or as a supplier, can do something. Attached to this article are many resources you can research so you can get a handle on this scourge. For my own purposes, I’ve decided to focus on sex trafficking within our business. Also attached are some things you can do right now, every time you step on an airplane, walk into a restaurant, plan an event, are in a hotel or other venue.
For planners, one of the most important things you can do is ask questions on your RFP. If the venues aren’t doing anything, you can open the door to awareness, to conversation. It starts at the grassroots and it is beginning to take hold worldwide. While www.ecpatusa.org offers a series of questions you can ask on your RFP, Ellen Boddington, CMP CMM, has come up with her own set of questions. As with all templates, this one may need to be adjusted to your specific needs. (Reprinted with permission.)
Human trafficking as sexual exploitation takes place in all kinds of properties, from budget motels to luxury hotels and resorts, and air and ground transportation is often used to carry out these criminal acts. It can happen at large public events and even corporate conferences. For those reasons, employees in these industries can play a positive role in preventing these offences, by reporting their concerns to police.
Please advise if your Venue / Hotel plays a role in protecting the innocent by answering the following questions:
- Are you aware of this growing problem as it relates to the use of hotels by criminals for this activity?
- Do you currently have or participate in an education and awareness campaign, aimed at employees in the hospitality industry?
- If so, which campaign: ______
- Do you do your own training of employees to identify and report suspicious instances where child trafficking or illegal sexual exploitation might be occurring on your property?
- Is training mandated?
- If so, what service-type of employees are trained?
- Has your company signed on to the ECPAT-USA Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (thecode.org www.ecpatusa.org) The Code is worldwide and training can be done online
- Does your local CVB have a policy against human trafficking that it shares with Hotel members?
- How do I make sure that no one at my client’s conference is harmed by human trafficking?
- Would you like to learn more about Sexual Exploitation education and awareness campaigns for employees in the hospitality industry?
- Are you aware of the working conditions of the migrant workers from whom your food is supplied?” (While we are aware this is not specific to sex trafficking, it is very specific to food & beverage at conferences, events. It is another typography according to Polaris (www.polarisproject.org)
This is a crisis but there’s something we can do about it. It is about money — how many hotels want to be known as a place where sex trafficking is happening? — and it is about corporate social responsibility.
Want to know more? Contact Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM, Imagination+Meeting Planners Inc.