Not on the Front Lines, but in the Fight – a TMC’s Role in Ending Trafficking

Guest Blog by Andrew Riegler, Director of Marketing at CorpTrav

When you understand ECPAT’s mission “to protect every child’s basic human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking,” it’s an easy decision to support this cause.

Several years ago after learning about ECPAT at a GBTA conference, CorpTrav partnered with ECPAT. When the group returned from the conference and introduced ECPAT to the executive team, there was no doubt – not a single hesitation – this was a cause we needed to support.

Human trafficking and child exploitation is a dark, scary topic. It’s not something we want to think about. As mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, it’s the stuff of literal nightmares. What’s even scarier is that these nightmares aren’t simply reserved for the deep, dark corners of a faraway place. It’s happening right here in the United States. In your state. Maybe even in your neighborhood.

Traffickers often travel by air to move from city to city. They use hotels to conduct their business. We have an audience of frequent business travelers who are on the front lines.

The more educated and trained our employees, occasional business travelers, and road warriors are in identifying the signs, the greater the chance of helping to save someone.

Learning to identify some of the basic red flags takes little more than your lunch break for a time commitment, but could make a lifetime of difference for someone’s child.

I find myself being more aware when traveling, whether at the airport, on the plane or especially in my hotel. Paying a little more attention to your surroundings isn’t hard. Traffickers count on the fact that most people aren’t paying attention and tend to mind their own business.

Ways CorpTrav supports ECPAT and helps spread awareness:

  • Top member status with The Code - an industry-driven initiative with the mission to provide awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry to prevent the sexual exploitation of children

  • ECPAT training is mandatory for every new employee’s onboarding and orientation

  • We include a zero tolerance policy and clause in 100% of our contracts with suppliers

  • We leverage our social platforms to help spread awareness of ECPAT, their mission, and ways our audience can help

  • We partner with clients and the local community to identify opportunities to promote ECPAT

  • CorpTrav’s senior vice president, Mary Batal-Riley actively participates on the board of ECPAT’s TMC Advisory Committee

As one of the largest woman-owned, independent global travel management companies, we have a responsibility to use our voice and influence in the travel industry to help support and spread awareness for ECPAT’s mission. As human beings, we need to join together and put an end to human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.

New Law Helps Combat Trafficking in the Trucking Industry

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The news from Washington in 2018, so far, has been mostly bad. Scandals and gridlock dominate the headlines, and the Federal government is currently staring at the possibility of a shutdown. But one area of progress stands out above the partisan bickering, and that is federal policy to combat human trafficking.

Earlier this month, another notable step was made to integrate human trafficking awareness into federal policy making. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) passed S. 1536, The Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, a bill endorsed by ECPAT USA. The new law was signed by President Trump in time for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

As anyone who drives America’s freeways can tell you, there are a lot of trucks and tractor trailers on the road. Current estimates put the number at 3.5 million truckers logging 432 billion miles crisscrossing the country. However, a variety of factors, from the interstate nature of trucking, to the ubiquity of unaccompanied men staying at truck stops, to CB communication, have made the trucking industry an ideal market for child traffickers.

Girls are frequently sent from truck to truck at rest stops while sex traffickers collect the money and then drive off with their victims to another jurisdiction. CNN reported last year on an alert trucker who pulled into into a gas station in New Kent County, Virginia. He noted it was quiet and isolated but a "kind of unusual" family recreational vehicle was parked nearby. "The thing that stuck out was that this was an old RV with black curtains which wasn't very family-ish," Kimmel reported. He watched as a man approached the RV and knocked before entering. Kimmel saw what he thought was a "minor female"  dart out from behind the RV curtain and then quickly disappear. He immediately called the local sheriff. Police cars soon arrived, and rescued "a female in really bad shape." A man and a woman in handcuffs were also escorted out of the vehicle.

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The young victim in this story was fortunate. A conscientious trucker saw something, and did not turn a blind eye. Instead, he called the authorities and they rescued a badly abused victim who had been abducted from Iowa. Truckers across the country have helped organize Truckers Against Trafficking, which shares ECPAT’s goals of preventing child trafficking. And the organization has proved to be an important ally in Washington to address sex trafficking in the transportation sector. But we need more resources, more education and more visibility in America’s highways, ports and airports, and that is what this legislation does.

The new law creates a human trafficking coordinator within the Department of Transportation to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts throughout the department. Furthermore, human trafficking education and prevention programs can now be developed out of the roughly quarter billion dollars allocated to the Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Finally, the bill creates an advisory committee at the department which will recommended changes to Department of Transportation’s policy and regulations. These recommendations and other suggested best practices will then be shared with the states.

As always, while we have supported this bill since its introduction, more remains to be done. Several states, including Texas and Illinois have introduced mandatory human trafficking training into their Commercial Driver’s License requirements. We need to make certain that drivers involved in child trafficking get more than a slap on the wrist and return back to the road. And Senator Klobuchar has legislation seeking to compensate the victims from this form of human trafficking. So, as always, our work is cut out for us. But, we also need to take a moment to congratulate Senators Klobuchar and Thune for helping us take another step in ending child sexual exploitation in this country.

ECPAT-USA Invites Thought Leaders in the Meeting and Events Industry to Join Committee

With the growing acknowledgement that the meeting and events and corporate travel management community are uniquely positioned to combat human trafficking, ECPAT-USA develops a high level committee to support our mission.

Sadly, victims of child sex trafficking are often abused in hotel rooms across the globe and airlines are used to transport victims or used by exploiters to travel and meet victims. One trained flight attendant or front-desk clerk can change the path of a victim’s entire life.

As an industry that is consistently communicates with travel suppliers such as hotels, airlines, buses, and ground transportation companies, meeting and events professionals can spread the word about how businesses can partner with ECPAT to combat child sex trafficking.

Industry associations across the board are getting more active about the issue, creating a demand for tools and resources that will help meeting and events/corporate travel professionals better understand the issue, share information with associates, and discuss the issue with suppliers.

The ECPAT-USA TMC Advisory Committee is a group of experts in the fields of the travel management industry, corporate sales or related areas who will lend their skills to help move ECPAT-USA’s mission forward. Advisory Committee members will provide expertise, feedback, and guidance on the development of tools and resources for the industry.

As ECPAT-USA shared in our 2017 report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, meeting and events professionals can persuade both travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and corporate travel managers to implement policies and programs to protect children.

ECPAT-USA is thrilled to welcome the following meeting and events/travel management professionals to our committee:

Beau Ballin, Sr. Director, Business Development CWT Meetings & Events, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

Jen Bankard, Education Specialist, Association of Corporate Travel Executives

Mary Batal-Riley, Senior Vice President, CorpTrav

Mary Clare Darland, Manager, Sourcing, Maritz Travel

Lisa Donovan Berry, Vice President & GM, Business Travel Division, CI Azumano

Ruth L. Marion, Owner/Operator, Marion Meetings and Events

Barbara Scofidio, Editor, Prevue

Mitchell Stern, Global Category Lead - Travel, Fleet & Events, Pearson

Ann Marie Verity, General Manager, Accenture/Global Program Management, Carlson Wagonlit Travel


To learn more about how to get involved with ECPAT-USA’s work, click here.

ECPAT-USA Recognizes RHG As A Tourism Hero For Being Proactive In Fight To End Trafficking

Throughout National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention, we are celebrating those who have taken a stand against sex trafficking in the tourism and hospitality industry with #TourismHeroTuesday. Every day, our private sector partners are helping to protect children around the world from exploitation.

Today, we’re recognizing Real Hospitality Group (RHG). An associate of RHG was recently working at the front desk of a hotel in New York City when they noticed a teenage boy sitting in the lobby by himself. When an hour or so later he was still there, the associate approached him and struck up a conversation. The associate learned that he had run away and had taken a bus nearly 500 miles from his home in Virginia. The associate called the police, who attended the scene, and contacted the child’s parents, and waited until both arrived to make sure the boy stayed safe.

As runaway and homeless youth are a population particularly vulnerable to traffickers, we applaud RHG for their proactive work and taking action to prevent a potential trafficking situation before it starts.

“The initiatives of ECPAT-USA have been a critical part of our corporate responsibility platform and we have continued to use our sphere of influence to educate and train our field team members to identify and help put an end to child trafficking and exploitation,” said Ben Seidel, President and CEO of RHG. “We have invested a great deal of time to develop a program that can be successfully deployed at our hotels and contributes to the goals of ECPAT-USA.”

By Presidential Proclamation, January was officially named National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention to bring awareness to that fact that there are still over 20 million people living in slavery today. Over the years, incredible progress has been made through partnerships between governments and nonprofits: laws protecting victims have been passed, offenders put in jail, the number of services have gone way up.

In the last few years, the private sector has stepped up and gotten involved in fighting trafficking, especially when it comes to child sex trafficking victims. Learn more about how your company can join us in creating a world where no child is bought sold or used for sex here.

Celebrities Lend Their Voices to Fight Sex Trafficking Online

Celebrities Lend Their Voices to Fight Sex Trafficking Online

In a new public service announcement, Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers, AnnaLynne McCord, and other public figures lend their voices to fight sex trafficking online. The new PSA underscores the urgency to pass pending legislation that would allow trafficking victims to seek the justice they deserve.

American Airlines Joins With ECPAT-USA To Protect Children Around The World

In honor of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, ECPAT-USA is proud to announce American Airlines as the latest member of the travel and tourism industry to sign ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code). An industry-driven responsible tourism initiative, The Code provides awareness, tools and support to the industry in order to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

"The work that ECPAT does is incredibly important,” said Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. “We have half a million customers a day and our flight attendants, our pilots, [and] our agents can be real guardians and lines of defense against human trafficking and child exploitation."

Victims of trafficking are often transported via air travel to different cities and countries. As such, airline and airport employees are in a unique position to identify and prevent instances of sexual exploitation. As a member of The Code, American Airlines will implement the following six criteria, several of which are already in place at the airline, in order to end child sex trafficking:

1. Establish a corporate policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children
2. Train employees in children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases
3. Include a clause in further partner contracts stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children
4. Provide information to travelers on children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and how to report suspected cases
5. Support, collaborate and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children
6. Report annually on the company’s implementation of Code-related activities

“We have been on a decades long campaign to ensure that no child is bought, sold, or used for sex," said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. "Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we celebrate the latest and biggest success to reach our goal: the signing by American Airlines of the Code of Conduct. One of the ways we will end the sexual exploitation of children is through the commitment of far-sighted leaders like Robert Isom, President of American Airlines. American Airlines joins a family of inspiring companies making a far-reaching change to corporate culture in order to protect all our children." 

 

 

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 93 countries. For more information, visit ecpatusa.org/code.


ABOUT AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP

American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. American is a founding member of the oneworld® alliance, whose members serve more than 1,000 destinations with about 14,250 daily flights to over 150 countries. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL. In 2015, its stock joined the S&P 500 index. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.

 

Gallery and Cover Photo: American Airlines

ECPAT-USA Recognizes ITMI As A Tourism Hero For Their Work In Preventing Trafficking

Throughout National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention, we are celebrating those who have taken a stand against sex trafficking in the tourism and hospitality industry with #TourismHeroTuesday. Every day, our private sector partners are helping to protect children around the world from exploitation.

Today, we’re recognizing International Tour Management Institute (ITMI). Through implementing the tools and best practices taught during their company’s training, two ITMI employees were able to identify and appropriately respond to situations of suspected child sex trafficking. While we are unable to report on the outcome of these cases, both show the important role members of the travel and tourism industry play in the fight to protect the freedom of children across the country.

We at ECPAT-USA applaud our #TourismHeroTuesday partner, ITMI for their efforts!

By Presidential Proclamation, January was officially named National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention to bring awareness to that fact that there are still over 20 million people living in slavery today. Over the years, incredible progress has been made through partnerships between governments and non-profits: laws protecting victims have been passed, offenders put in jail, the number of services have gone way up.

In the last few years, the private sector has stepped up and gotten involved in fighting trafficking, especially when it comes to child sex trafficking victims. Learn more about how your company get join us in creating a world where no child is bought sold or used for sex here.

Video | Listen to Survivors

Each year, millions of people are victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation, and every dollar of profit is fueled by someone's pain. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, where we renew our dedication to end all forms of slavery, trafficking, and exploitation. Hear the stories behind the statistics, and join us in creating a world where no child is bought, sold, or used for sex.

This video was produced by World Without Exploitation.

ECPAT-USA and The Code Announce 2017 US Top Members

The Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) recently announced their 2017 Top Member companies. Eight companies, two based in the United States, are newly-recognized as Top Members for their “exceptional work to integrate child protection practices into their businesses.” In total, twenty Top Members are based in the United States and are guided through their membership and implementation with the support of Local Code Representative, ECPAT-USA.

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The Code is a set of six voluntary guidelines that travel and tourism companies implement to comprehensively and proactively combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In order for a company to be recognized as a Top Member, companies must implement all six of The Code criteria within their business operations and report publicly on TheCode.Org website.

“We are encouraged that our Top Members are committed to comprehensive policies and training that protect children,” said ECPAT-USA’s director of private sector engagement, Michelle Guelbart. “The travel industry continues to mobilize on this issue and we look forward to seeing more Code Members join these leaders in 2018.”

The 20 United States 2017 Top Members are:
Adventure Travel Trade Association (trade association)
Altruvistas (tour operator)
Caribe Royale Orlando (hotel)
Carlson (hotel brand)
CorpTrav Management (travel management)
Elevate Destinations*
EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services (ground transportation)
Envision Meetings & Incentives (meeting & events)
Hilton Worldwide (hotel brand)
Hospitality eResources (hospitality consulting)
Hyatt Hotels Corporation*
International Tour Management Institute (educational institute)
Maritz Travel (travel management)
Meaningful Trip (tour operator)
Meeting Professionals International – WA State Chapter (trade association)
Nix Conference & Meeting Management (meeting & events)
Platinum Travel & Events (meeting professionals)
Real Hospitality Group (hotel management)
Sabre (global distribution system)
Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (trade association)

* companies newly promoted to Top Member status

See all of the US Code Members and learn more about our work with companies to prevent child trafficking and exploitation.

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