Child victims of sex trafficking are being exploited in America’s hotels

Child victims of sex trafficking are being exploited in America’s hotels

ECPAT-USA’s new Public Service Announcement and campaign, “Does Your Hotel Know?”, calls on hotels and travelers to learn the signs of sex trafficking and take action.

Sex trafficking victims – including children – are often bought and sold in hotel rooms and exploited in prostitution, ranging from budget properties to luxury resorts. Service providers and law enforcement agencies report that nearly all victims they come in contact with have been exploited in hotels. A trafficker may run his business out of a hotel room, putting employees in a unique position to identify victims and alert authorities. From checkin to checkout there are a number of indicators victims and traffickers exhibit during the time they are on a hotel property.

Estimates state that 100,000 American children are victims of sex trafficking in the United States and 300,000 are at risk. Over 4,000 children just in NYC were found to be victims of sexual exploitation, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received over 500,000 reports of sexual exploitation in 2013 alone.

Katrina Owens, survivor of trafficking and victim advocate, was exploited in prostitution the United States and in New York City beginning at the age of 16. She spoke about her experience of being taken to hotels, “Some of the top hotels they look at you and they know; its like when your eyes meet you know that something might not be right, ‘should I say something, should I not say anything, or should I just turn my head?’ And quite often, they turn their head.”

Despite the number of victims, the hotel industry has been taking a stand. “We’ve made a lot of progress working with hotels in the United States. The travel industry has become really active because they know they can make a huge difference in the lives of victims,” says Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA. “With almost every training I lead, someone tells a story about how they have witnessed something on a hotel property. Our hope is that training to prevent and identify child sex trafficking becomes standard with the hospitality industry.”

Real Hospitality Group, a hotel management company with properties such as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriot, Wyndham, etc. has been conducting training for hotel employees in New York City. Ben Seidel, President and CEO stated, “Real Hospitality Group is committed to doing all it can within our sphere of influence to end the sexual exploitation of children. Our associates are in a unique position to be able to identify victims and alert authorities. It was important to us to work with ECPAT-USA to develop and implement complete training for all associates not only within New York City but across our portfolio in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland”.

ECPAT-USA is launching the PSA “Does Your Hotel Know” as a call to action to hotels and their customers. With proper training, a front desk clerk or a housekeeper can notice that something is not right and respond. ECPAT-USA promotes The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code), the only voluntary set of business principles companies can implement to prevent sex tourism and the sex trafficking of children. ECPAT-USA’s new campaign promotes corporate social responsibility and encourages hotel brands to join the Code and take a stand against sexual exploitation. Major companies currently implementing the Code include Hilton Worldwide, Wyndham, Carlson Companies, Orbitz, and Delta Airlines.

An additional focus of this campaign is responsible tourism and utilizing travel for social change and positive impacts. This November ECPAT-USA is leading the groundbreaking journey to Thailand, Behind the CODE: An ECPAT Advocacy Journey, in which a group of tourists have the opportunity to learn about the issue of sexual exploitation, along with how the travel industry is combating trafficking and child sex tourism. Registration costs directly support anti-trafficking programs.

About ECPAT: ECPAT is an international network comprised of over 80 organizations, represented in 75 countries. ECPAT-USA is recognized as one of the primary organizations focused on ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children and is the American affiliate of the international ECPAT network. ECPAT-USA works every day to ensure that no child is bought, sold, or used for sex. ECPAT-USA undertakes policy and legislative advocacy, corporate social responsibility, research, training, educational initiatives, along with raising awareness that children are commercially sexually exploited here in the US. http://www.ecpatusa.org/

Media Relations Contact
Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement
Telephone: 718-935-9192
michelle@http://www.ecpatusa.org

Should sex exploiters of children be held criminally responsible for their actions?

Should sex exploiters of children be held criminally responsible for their actions?

Everyone knows that children are bought and sold as part of the adult sex market in the “escort” category of classified-ad websites. Teens who were sold on Backpage.com have filed a lawsuit against it. So have the federal government and the city of San Francisco. While backpage.com says it screens out children in its escort ads, it has not stopped children from being sold on their pages. And young people are for sale on many, many other “escort” websites as well.

But this is not about Backpage. This is about responsibility and whether men who buy sex from teenage boys or girls should be held accountable for sexually exploiting children, even if they did not know the young person’s age. State laws impose strict liability for sex crimes against children. Statutory rape laws are based on the actual age of the child. They do not excuse criminal behavior because the defendant believed the child to be older. There should be no difference when the sex crime is committed in a commercial setting. Paying someone for permission to rape a child does not alter the buyer’s status as a child rapist.

Yet, many people take the attitude that the adult’s behavior is excusable in the commercial context. This attitude is hard to accept when you know the terrible toll that sexual abuse and exploitation takes on children. Commercial sexual abuse is one of the most egregious harms suffered by children. Sexual abuse and exploitation of children have life-long impacts on a child’s health, psycho-social development and well-being. Children who are exploited confront physical violence and disease. They often report long-lasting feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem. They do not believe they are worthy of rescue and protection. They suffer from knowing they were betrayed by someone whom they had trusted. Some suffer from nightmares, sleeplessness, hopelessness and depression. Many find it difficult to reintegrate successfully into society once they become adults.

When a buyer decides to purchase someone’s body for sex, he is taking on an array of inherent dangers connected with entering into an illegal transaction with a stranger. Since pubescent children are integrated into the adult sex market, one of those risks is that he is exploiting a child for his own pleasure, a risk that causes life-long harm to a child. Why would we ever want to protect a buyer from the criminal consequences when he has paid to abuse a child? Protecting children’s human rights demands that anyone caught sexually exploiting a child should be punished, even if he didn’t know his or her age.

Choice Hotels International Partners with ECPAT-USA to Fight Child Trafficking by Signing The Code

ROCKVILLE, MD (June 4, 2015) – Choice Hotels International joins ECPAT-USA’s mission to end child slavery at the source and take further measures to prevent and protect children from human trafficking by joining the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code). The Code is the industry-driven tourism initiative in preventing child trafficking. They signed The Code on April 29th 2015.

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are nearly 21 million people around the world trapped in modern day slavery. In the U.S. alone, there are at least 100,000 American children at risk each year. Unbeknownst to management, hotel rooms can be used by traffickers to run their operations. They are seen as an anonymous setting to meet buyers.

Members of The Code develop ethical policies against the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Choice Hotels’ Board of Directors adopted an anti-trafficking policy in 2010 and the company is strengthening their anti-trafficking training program for franchisees. The training, available on Choice University, will help hotel staff identify and respond to suspicious activity that may occur on a hotel property. ECPAT-USA joined Choice Hotels at their 61st Annual Convention in Las Vegas to begin raising awareness with attendees.

“Choice Hotels has a firm belief in ECPAT-USA’s values and mission of preventing and protecting children from human trafficking,” said Steve Joyce, president and CEO, Choice Hotels. “We are dedicated to collaborating with ECPAT-USA to raise awareness around this horrific crime.”

“With franchised hotels in all 50 states in the United States, Choice Hotels’ commitment will greatly influence awareness on this issue,” said ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement, Michelle Guelbart. “We applaud Choice Hotels for their work and look forward to spreading the word with their franchisees.”

“Sex trafficking today is the second largest criminal industry in the world behind drugs, and sex traffickers frequently use hotels to facilitate the commercial sexual exploitation of trafficking victims. A Justice Department study found that nearly 1-in-2 child-trafficking victims in New York were abused in hotels,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “I believe hotel staff should be trained to spot signs of trafficking to help combat it, and policies to address suspected cases must be in place. I applaud Choice Hotels, which operates more than 6,300 hotels nationwide, for its commitment to implement The Code.”

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About Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels International, Inc.® is one of the world’s largest lodging companies. With more than 6,300 hotels franchised in 35 countries and territories, we represent more than 500,000 rooms around the globe. As of December 31, 2014, 603 hotels were in our development pipeline. Our company’s Ascend Hotel Collection®, Cambria® hotels & suites, Comfort Inn®, Comfort Suites®, Sleep Inn®, Quality®, Clarion®, MainStay Suites®, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel®, Econo Lodge® and Rodeway Inn® brands provide a spectrum of lodging choices to meet our guests’ needs. With more than 22 million members and counting, check out our Choice Privileges® rewards program to see how you can reap the benefits of being a member of the Choice Hotels® family. Visit us at www.choicehotels.com for more information.

About ECPAT-USA
ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 73 countries. For more information, visit www.http://www.ecpatusa.org/code. Contact: (718) 935-9192 or info@http://www.ecpatusa.org.

7 Reasons to Drop What You’re Doing and Download our Anti-Trafficking Toolkit

7 Reasons to Drop What You’re Doing and
Download our Anti-Trafficking Toolkit

Here are the reasons for becoming an informed modern-day abolitionist by using ECPAT-USA’s Empowering Youth to Take the Lead Anti-Trafficking Toolkit. Download here>>http://www.http://www.ecpatusa.org/empowering-youth

1) You’ll learn about the 100,000+ American children who are sex trafficked each year in the U.S.

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Anybody under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex is automatically considered to be a victim of sex trafficking. There’s no movement or transportation required- somebody is often trafficked within their own home or in a hotel.Under federal law, sex trafficking is when a commercial sex act (a.k.a. sex act in exchange for something of monetary value) happens by violence, lying, intimidation, fear, or false promises OR when the person is under the age of 18 and engages in sex in return for something of value (money, shelter, food, etc).

2) You’ll make your school a safer community.

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By adopting ECPAT-USA’s Empowering Youth to Take the Lead Toolkit, not only will you become informed about the commercial sexual exploitation (sex trafficking) of children, but you’ll also be able to give your friends better relationship advice since you’ll learn to recognize the signs of power, control and abuse. You’ll create a safe space for potentially current or past exploited students within your school. Don’t you want to be part of a culture of acceptance, looking out for your peers? It’s what the cool kids do!

3) You’ll become part of a movement bigger than yourself.

This is a global movement! Sex trafficking of children has been documented in every single state within the U.S. What are you doing to eradicate this terrible trade? You’d be surprised by how much awareness and education can really do. Just by educating someone on the topic, you’re potentially preventing them from falling into this trade.

4) You’ll meet super cool people to add to your squad #baes5ever

You’re sure to meet like-minded individuals and potential BFFs through this program! By learning about the issue of sex trafficking, you’ll become empowered which will lead to others becoming empowered. It’s a culture of empowerment! Not only will you learn about sex trafficking, but you’ll also learn how trafficking can be influenced by pop culture or gender equality. You’ll also be more aware of how certain communities or identities may be more at risk, such as homeless or runaway youth, low income individuals, or LGBTQ communities.

5) You’ll have access to SO MANY empowerment opportunities!

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In 2015, two students from a Brooklyn high school that used our Youth Toolkit shared their experiences on our Toolkit’s effectiveness at the United Nations! Yup, that’s right. The UNITED NATIONS. They spoke about empowerment, school-wide assemblies they started on the issue of trafficking, and the Toolkit preventing a student from being trafficked. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find so many ways to volunteer and get involved with the anti-trafficking movement!

6) Being involved with the Youth Toolkit makes you super human!

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In addition to becoming a super cool & amazing activist, you can most likely get community service hours by checking in with your school! Plus, it’ll set you apart from others when you put your activism on your college apps!

7) YOU are the face of prevention!

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Since launching our Youth Toolkit at the end of 2014, 3 students, after learning about the issue from our Toolkit, have come forward and self-identified as being commercially sexually exploited. 2 other students said they were able to recognize that the situation they were currently in as a toxic one, and reached out to their friends and teachers for assistance. Prevention comes through education. Just telling one other person about the issue can potentially prevent it from happening. Learn to recognize the warning signs. Many teenagers who have been commercially sexually exploited said that they would rather tell their friends about what was happening to them than a parent or teacher. That means that you really are the face of prevention.

Be an ear and a shoulder for your classmates. If you sense something is not right, speak up. Call the Human Trafficking Resource Center anonymously>>888-373-7888
Download our Youth Toolkit for free (YASSSSS FREEEEEE!) here >>http://www.http://www.ecpatusa.org/empowering-youth
College student? We love you too! Download our FREE (a college student’s favorite word) Campus Anti-Trafficking Club Starter Kit>>http://bit.ly/1IDva6W

Senate package of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking S. 178 (JVTA) has passed the House of Representatives (420-3)!

It is with great pleasure we are able to report that the Senate package of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking S. 178 (JVTA) has passed the House of Representatives (420-3)!

The JVTA is a comprehensive piece of legislation designed to fight and prevent human trafficking in the United States. The bill will provide critical funding so that child victims of trafficking can get the services they need to heal and law enforcement can receive training that will strengthen their response to this horrific crime. The whole package also has other top ECPAT-USA priorities including a provision that will hold people who buy and exploit children accountable for the harm they cause, language that finally recognizes that child victims of trafficking should be considered victims of child abuse, and the creation of a survivor council.

We are so thankful to our federal partners, and the original bill sponsors, Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for their commitment to this bill and making sure that vulnerable children have a voice in Congress. This landmark bill also represents many years of hard work and advocacy from ALL OF YOU, and we could not have gotten this far without your dedication. We would like to especially recognize our industry partners Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), CorpTrav Management Group, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), the students from St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn, and all of our allies who wrote letters and called their representatives to demand they pass this bill.

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SITE Joins ECPAT’s Effort to End Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking

The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) has officially joined ECPAT’s efforts to end child exploitation and human trafficking. The association’s International Board of Directors formally signed the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) during SITE Nite Europe, 18 May 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Code is an internationally accepted set of voluntary guidelines that travel and tourism companies can implement to prevent child exploitation and human trafficking.

Rhonda Brewer, SITE President and Vice-President – Sales, Maritz Travel Company, was instrumental in creating this partnership. Maritz Travel has been a member of The Code since November of 2013. “Signing of the Child-Protection Code signifies SITE’s commitment to speak out against sexual exploitation of women and children and our intention to leverage our influence in the industry to help victims become survivors.”

“SITE’s global membership and reach will be instrumental in spreading out message to countless companies and individuals who may come across child trafficking victims,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA. “We look forward to this exciting partnership.”

With more than 2000 members in 90 countries, SITE will use its channels of communications and events to inform and educate its members, suppliers and customers about the critical issue and encourage their support for ECPAT’s work around the globe. Actions will include training for staff and members, connecting SITE chapters to regional ECPAT offices/NGOs, communication of procedures for reporting of possible cases to local authorities and submission of reports to The Code organization.

By enacting responsible policies, members of The Code play an essential role in protecting children from the sexual exploitation that is particularly prevalent in the travel and hospitality industry. With the use of online classified ads, child trafficking has moved off the streets and behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Airlines are a primary means of transportation for child sex tourists who travel overseas to sexually exploit children. Unfortunately, very few victims are identified and fewer still receive the help and services they need.

To learn more about ECPAT-USA, The Code, and how your can get involved in ending child slavery at the source visit www.http://www.ecpatusa.org/thecode.

About ECPAT-USA
ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 73 countries. For more information, visit www.http://www.ecpatusa.org/code. Contact: (718) 935-9192 or info@http://www.ecpatusa.org.

About SITE
SITE, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence, is the only global organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting the incentive travel industry. We connect incentive travel to business results. For our members we provide professional development, certification, and business connections. Over the last 40 years, SITE has grown to over 2,000 members in 90 countries with 29 local and regional chapters. www.SITEglobal.com

temp-post-imagePictured l-r: Kurt Paben, SITE Foundation President and President, Channel & Employee Loyalty US, Aimia; Rhonda Brewer, SITE President and Vice-President, Sales, Maritz Travel Company; Kevin Hinton, SITE Chief Excellence Officer.

ACTION ALERT: JVTA Call in Day April 29th

ACTION ALERT: JVTA Call in Day April 29th

Ask House Leadership to Take Up and Pass
the Senate Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act Compromise!

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) (S. 1738), as amended, provides funding and protections for victims of human trafficking here in the United States. It is the ONLY comprehensive legislation that provides funding for critical services victims need to heal and training for law enforcement so that they can better respond to victims and identify and prosecute traffickers. The Senate compromise package also includes many other important measures such the recognition that child victims of trafficking are victims of child abuse and provisions that incentivize states to pass Safe Harbor laws that discourage the arrest of child trafficking victims.

We Need Your Help
On Wednesday April 29th, please join national advocacy groups in calling House Leadership offices to let them know that you want the House to swiftly take up and pass the Senate Compromise JVTA. The Compromise JVTA passed the Senate unanimously with a vote of 99-0. This bipartisan legislation includes many of the House provisions that passed earlier this year. the Senate if we want it to actually become law!

Please Call:
Speaker John Beohner – (202) 225-6205
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – 202-225-4000
Majority Whip Steve Scalise – 202-225-0197
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte – (202) 225-5431
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – (202) 225-0100
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer – (202) 225-4131
Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers – 202-225-5126

Use the talking points below to guide your discussion:

Good morning/afternoon, my name is XX and I am an anti-trafficking advocate. I am calling to ask that you please take up and pass the Senate Compromise of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S.178).

· JVTA is the ONLY comprehensive human trafficking legislation that provides funding and resources so that child victims of trafficking can receive critical services they need to heal.

· JVTA promotes interagency collaboration, which allows for law enforcement, child advocacy centers, social service agencies, healthcare providers, legal services programs, courts, and housing agencies to provide safety for child victims.

· JVTA clarifies existing laws, making it clear that those that abuse and buy children for sex must be held accountable for the harm they cause by law enforcement and prosecutors.

· Just last week, the Senate passed the JVTA unanimously on a 99-0 vote. We hope that the House can show similar support for our domestic victims of trafficking.

Background on JVTA

Three critical ways the amended Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) addresses domestic trafficking:

1. Creates two funds for victims of trafficking, one using fines and the other appropriated dollars. All together, this will infuse as much as $60M for training and services for victims of trafficking.

2. Encourages cross-system collaboration between law enforcement, child welfare systems, juvenile justice officials, courts, and victim service organizations (and where applicable tribal authorities).

3. Reduces demand for sex trafficking by calling on law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute buyers, not just pimps/exploiters.

Relief for children caught in Earthquake in Nepal

After the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on 25th April 2015, thousands of people have died in different parts of the country. The death toll is said to be in the thousands. Casualties among children is still not known. CWIN-Nepal as a child rights organization is deeply concerned about the possible damage to children. CWIN has informed citizens and police about the Child Helpline services it carries out in the 6 districts of Nepal, namely, Kathmanud, Pokhara, Hetauda, Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi for the support of for children caught in the earthquake. CWIN-run Child Helplines are willing to extend support to any children missing their families, who got injured, who need counseling and emergency humanitarian assistance. For this CWIN is seeking all kinds of assistance so that we are able to reach out to more children in crisis.

Likewise, CWIN is worried about the children living and working on the streets for their safety and whereabouts. Our Peer Educators tried to locate some of the young people but many are out of our contact. We need to go out tomorrow for their help. Similarly, buildings at CWIN Balika Peace Home, a transit centre located in Pasthali, Kavre have cracked badly due to the earthquake and we are not in position to go inside these buildings, as one of the verandah has fallen already.

There are about 50 girls and 10 staff staying outside at the grounds. They do not have electricity and water now. We also have 13 Norwegian citizens there of whom about 10 are young adults aged 18-20 years, who went there for an exchange programme. We need to bring all the girls to a safer place and arrange for alternative stay and for food until we are able to make sure that the buildings do not collapse. Our girls are also very scared as they come from various risk backgrounds and are away from their parents or have no parents.

The office buildings in Kathmandu and the building of Child Helpline also have some cracks and we need to assess for safety to enter into these buildings. We want to mobilise volunteers in all the districts where we run Child Helplines so that children are reached soonest possible for any immediate help they need. We urge the government and authority to pay special attention to the rescue and support of children in affected areas. We also request all the civil society members, INGOS, NGOs and volunteer groups to please look for children while you are providing any assistance to the earthquake survivors and take special care of them.

Child Helpline 1098 run by CWIN Nepal in cooperation with the
Government of Nepal and Nepal Telecom Authority

Sumnima (00 977 9851052545)

Madhav (00977 9851035520)

Bharat (00977 9851082900)

Breaking – Senate Passes Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act with Incredible Vote of 99-0

Breaking – Senate Passes Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act with Incredible Vote of 99-0

“We are throwing a lifeline to these victims of human trafficking by providing them real resources to help them, to help first rescue them, and then to help them heal. This is a good day for the United States Senate because we’re doing the right thing for people who have no voice.”
– Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

After many weeks of impasse, the Senate acted today with a true show of bipartisanship and passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA). Thanks to an agreement reached earlier this week by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), all previous issues of contention were resolved and the path was cleared to pass this important legislation. As a result of the Cornyn/Murray compromise, $60M will go towards fighting human trafficking and providing funding for services for victims.

In the end, 14 additional trafficking amendments were included as part of the overall JVTA package. We are pleased to report the passage of another ECPAT-USA priority Senator Rob Portman’s (R-OH) “Ensuring a Better Response for Victims of Child Sex Trafficking” (S.Amdt 1128) which amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act so that child victims of sex trafficking are rightfully considered victims of child abuse. Also of note, the passage of Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) “Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act” (S.Amdt 1124), calling on states to pass safe harbor laws, and the Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act” (S.Amdt 273), addressing the online exploitation of victims.

The JVTA package will now be sent to the House where we hope it will be taken up and passed quickly. Please follow ECPAT-USA for more information on actions you can take to help this bill make its way to the Presidents desk and become law.