How business travelers can spot human trafficking in hotels

Human trafficking victims often move in plain sight among us, at hotels, events and conferences. Here’s how business travelers can spot the signs and help fight back.

Trafficking victims may be male or female, young or old. They are often among us in plain sight at hotels. They may be subject to multiple forms of slavery or forced indenture, including construction work, dining, housekeeping or spa services, and sex work. Traffickers use coercion – such as threats of deportation, harm to the victim or their family members, and drug dependency – to control victims.

Business travelers are uniquely positioned to help. You can support the fight by learning some of the signs of modern slavery and what to do if something feels wrong. While not exhaustive, the below list could help save lives:

10 signs a person in your hotel may be in danger:

  1. The parties are reluctant to provide IDs at check-in
  2. Suspected trafficker pays for room in cash
  3. Someone else speaks for the suspected victim who is unable to talk freely or displays inadequate language skills
  4. Suspected victim and trafficker are checked into a room together in an isolated part of the hotel, e.g., near a fire exit
  5. Suspected victim is dressed inappropriately for age and/or weather
  6. Suspected victim is never left alone
  7. Suspected victim displays signs of physical or emotional abuse
  8. Suspected victim seems submissive or fearful
  9. Different visitors enter and exit the room of a suspected victim at an unusual rate
  10. Frequent room service orders, with high levels of alcohol, are made by different guests within the room

​What should you do if you suspect human trafficking?

  1. Observe as much as possible; remember location, clothing, descriptions, how many people, the time and any names used
  2. Do not confront the suspected trafficker or victim
  3. Discreetly alert hotel manager, authorities or security personnel near you
  4. If it is not possible to report to law enforcement, report online to ECPAT, a global network of civil society organizations that work to end the sexual exploitation of children or A21, a global, non-government group working to fight sexual exploitation and trafficking, forced slave labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and child soldiery

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