Minnesota is the latest state to join in the fight against address sex trafficking with new state-mandated training.
Human trafficking is an all to common occurrence, especially in this multi-billion dollar industry. It is a form of enslavement, forcing victims to commit sexual or labor acts in exchange for money or services. Hotels play a heavy role in human trafficking, being that victims and suspects are often housed there.
The Polaris Project, which acts as a helpline for suspected trafficking recorded almost 1,500 cases within hotels and motels from over 1,800 identified survivors and victims between 2007-2015. The U.S. was listed at the top destination for potential victims, followed by the Philippines and China.
As of November 1, 2018, all hotel and motel employees in Minnesota will undergo a 90-day training program to end sex trafficking in the hospitality industry. The training must be completed by the end of the month. All new employees must be trained within 90-days from their start date.
The program is intended to help staff be able to recognize signs of sex trafficking, such as guests checking in without luggage. The 40-min training will include a toolkit, specifically for managers and guides, accompanied by a video. Hotels and motels must abide by the order to maintain their licenses and stay open for business.
“I think the whole industry is going to get a little bit of a wakeup call just on ‘wow, we weren’t aware of how big of a problem this was,’” Jason Subbert, General Manager of TPI Hospitality hotels in Fairmont told Fox 9 News.
Minnesota’s Safe Harbor law provides legal protection, services, and housing to sexually exploited young and young adults. The Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force was established in 2006, one year after the first anti-trafficking laws were passed in Minnesota.
Shunu Shrestha, Minneapolis’ newly appointed Senior Advisor for human trafficking prevention, hopes to make an impact by raising awareness and providing education to help others recognize the signs of human trafficking.
“We have done such a good job of bringing awareness about sex trafficking of young people in the last 10 years, but we haven’t done enough work to bring that much awareness of labor trafficking and labor exploitation. People don’t have the proper tools to identify these issues.”
36 victims and 17 incidents of labor trafficking were documented by the Advocates for Human Rights in 2016.
The Marriot created a similar training course last year, training over 100,000 employees in the first six months, under the first ever Marriot human rights director, Tu Rinsche, according to Fast Company.
Airlines such as American Airlines, Delta and AsiaAir have also begun training employees to recognize signs of human trafficking.