Leading by Taking Action

A Quiet War Wages Where the Victims Are Women, Children and Hotel Companies


Last night over 40,000 hotel rooms were occupied in Oregon. Perhaps surprisingly, some of those guests arrived with bad intentions. Intentions of trafficking another person for sex.

Guardian Group, a local counter-trafficking nonprofit, recently spoke with a survivor of domestic sex trafficking. “Samantha” told us she stayed in hotels throughout the months of her sexual abuse. She and her trafficker seldom left their hotel room, maybe to go to a nearby nail salon in order to keep her appearance, as though she aspired to be doing these acts. When we asked Samantha if any employee or manager ever asked if she was okay, Samantha responded, “It was as though I was a ghost. Never once did someone ask if I was okay.” 

Our follow-up question, “What if someone had asked?” was answered, “I probably would’ve ignored them on most days, but what if they had asked me on a day I wanted help?” 

These words repeat in our ears as if it was yesterday. There are many “Samantha’s” among the volumes of guests who frequent hotels across Oregon - girls who are thinking, ‘Why isn’t someone looking for me?”
  
Guardian Group is already seeing how the rules are changing within the hotel industry as occurrences of sex trafficking rapidly grow. The complex linkages between human trafficking and the hospitality industry are very real and will only continue to grow if hoteliers, and even their customers fail to take a closer look at the issue of sex trafficking within the hospitality industry. 

Among the many factors that link trafficking to this service industry, one particularly relevant is the lack of training among service providers. Though we could highlight and focus on how criminals are responsible for this connection, we realize that an active approach is better managed and more responsible. Most employees and staff aren’t aware of the key indicators associated with human trafficking. Most providers don’t have a reporting channel for employees to use in case they do witness trafficking. 

Through no fault of their own, hotel owners are beginning to realize the impact on their revenue as this new ‘economy’ booms, and are finding themselves in the middle of the fastest growing crime in the world, human trafficking. That is why Guardian Group was built - to help hotels and businesses intersecting with the problem of sex trafficking in the U.S.

Guardian Group has been working diligently to increase and strengthen relationships and partnerships with both the public and private sectors. One way that Guardian Group is bridging the gap between these areas is our development of comprehensive training and educational tools that provide instruction for communities that want to better protect our most vulnerable. Our program teaches businesses about sex trafficking and equips them to recognize and respond to suspected incidents. With proper training, businesses are in a good position to identify potential victims and trafficking activities, thereby deterring future trafficking where they can recognize it, report it, and fight it.

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s mission is to advocate, protect, educate, and promote the foodservice and lodging industries. As a leader in the prevention of human trafficking of women and children, ORLA endorses and supports Guardian Group, proving their leadership and engagement is based upon action and not just words. Guardian Group applauds ORLA for strengthening the hospitality workforce to understand 1) the impact their efforts have on preventing trafficking, and 2) how to respond should they encounter a suspicious issue. By proactively taking such a strong stance against human trafficking in Oregon, ORLA is at the forefront of associations across the nation. | Guardian Group

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