PHJC Educate about Human Trafficking

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

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Hotels in the Indianapolis area are better equipped to recognize and help victims of human trafficking—thanks to an initiative launched before the February 5 Super Bowl by a group of 11 orders of Catholic women religious in Indiana and Michigan in collaboration with state and local officials and organizations.

The goal of the initiative is to raise awareness about human trafficking, assure that hotel staff receive appropriate training, and distribute educational materials to hotels willing to make them available in lobbies and guest rooms..

Of the 220 hotels that were contacted, 200 hotel mangers provided responses to questions asked by members of the religious orders. As a result of these phone calls, seven hotels requested training prior to the Super Bowl to help their employees recognize trafficking situations and how to assist victims. In addition, 99 hotels asked for materials that include:
· brochures about human trafficking for staff and guests;
· copies of the ECPAT (Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking) Code of Conduct developed by the hospitality industry to deter child sexual exploitation; and
· local anti-trafficking contact information, such as a 24-hour victim assistance hotline, safe houses, and police and law enforcement officials.

“We are very gratified by the responses from hotel managers and pleased that they made time to talk and work with us in this very busy season,” said Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Ann Oestreich, co-chair of the Coalition for Corporate Responsibility for Indiana and Michigan (CCRIM) which is coordinating the Super Bowl 2012 Anti-Trafficking Initiative. “From the phone calls we also learned that 45 hotels previously had conducted or were planning to conduct human trafficking awareness training for their employees, so they are well along the path of socially responsible business practice.”

Sister Virginia Kampwerth, PHJC Provincial Councilor adds, “After my training, I called 5 hotel managers on January 13. I spoke to 4 of the 5 managers personally and left the information on the voice-mail of the 5th manager. The people I spoke to were having training sessions with their staff and asked for more information to be sent to their hotels. Increasing the awareness of trafficking is a big part of stopping it on all levels.”

The 11 orders of women religious who are members of CCRIM, including the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, Donaldson and Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana have invested in hotel chains to address the issue of human trafficking in the hospitality industry. Since June 2011 they have been collaborating with state and local officials to curb human trafficking during festivities leading up to the Super Bowl. Incidents of human trafficking—or modern-day slavery—tend to spike alongside major sporting events to meet the high demand for commercial sex.

Added Sister Ann, who also is congregation justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Ind., “The positive results from this initiative could only be accomplished by many groups working together against trafficking. We are deeply grateful for the collaboration by all the orders of women religious and their associates, college students and especially the IPATH Task Force that has worked so hard in Indianapolis to raise awareness, provide needed services and coordinate training.”

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. It is operated by Polaris Project, a non-government organization working to combat human trafficking. Callers can report tips and receive information on human trafficking by calling the hotline at 1.888.3737.888.or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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