ECPAT-USA Expanding Anti-Human Trafficking Training to New Areas of the Travel Industry

New training designed for travel management professionals, corporate travel managers, and those in the meeting and events industry

Click through to read the full press release

Click through to read the full press release

Last year, ECPAT-USA shared the story of Denise Miracle, an American Airlines Gate Agent who stopped two young girls from Sacramento, California from meeting a man in New York they had only talked to on Instagram. He told them he would help them become models and sent them tickets. Without their parents knowledge both girls headed to the airport. Unknowingly, the girls had one-way tickets that were bought with fraudulent credit cards. Through training and sound mind, Denise prevented trafficking.

Human traffickers use domestic and international airlines to lure or move victims from one place to another.

The year before, an Uber driver named Keith Avila. He noticed a girl in his car who appeared to be very young and in attire that was not age appropriate. The two women in the car were talking to her about the commercial sex industry. He knew something was wrong and as soon as he dropped the riders off at the hotel where they were meeting a man, he called for help. That day Keith Avila helped break up a child sex trafficking ring.

The on-demand economy can be used to transport victims of trafficking from one hotel to another, where victims are exploited by buyers. Without proper training, victims will go unnoticed.

Hotel executives have shared stories of security professionals using training to identify missing children who now have a chance to be reunited with their families.

These are examples of front-line responses to child sex trafficking. These people responded to their gut instincts and training on human trafficking prevention.

But we knew that wasn’t all we could do.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), estimates that over 40 million people are living in human trafficking and exploitative conditions worldwide. 1 in 4 victims are children. While we know we are making progress, it’s not enough.

ECPAT-USA partners with the top three largest hotel brands in the world and two of the largest domestic airlines. Each company adopted anti-trafficking policies and implements comprehensive training on the issue. The changes we’ve seen are undeniable and there is enough momentum within front-line companies to say that it's time to innovate our efforts.

We heard story after story that proved we need to move beyond the front lines.

We introduced you to Dawn Rasmussen, an Oregon-based resume writer and career management coach who was taking a break from kayaking one day when she noticed a young woman walking alone in a parking lot. She noticed indicators she learned during an education session from her local chapter Meeting Professionals International. Dawn learned the woman was a runaway and she called for support, preventing the woman from being exploited.

Sara, a corporate travel manager, went a conference in Mexico where a company hosted a session about the signs and how to respond to human trafficking. On her way home, she noticed a woman who had little to no luggage, she seemed unclear of her destination, a bit lost. There was just something off. Sara couldn’t believe it. Was she seeing human trafficking in real time?

Sara was not sure exactly what to do but after a few attempts at calls, she finally reached out to airport security who was trained on how to respond to human trafficking. They agreed that her suspicions were sound and sprung into action.

Moving beyond the front lines means engaging a previously untapped sector of the travel industry by providing specialized training in how to identify and stop human trafficking for travel management professionals, corporate travel managers, and those in the meeting and events industry.

Today, ECPAT-USA is proud to launch Preventing & Responding to Human Trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children - An E-Learning by ECPAT-USA complete with free tools and resources to help companies combat trafficking and inform suppliers and clients of their commitment.

For decades, the travel industry has been used by traffickers to their own advantage. This training means it will be harder for traffickers to go unnoticed with more sectors of the travel industry involved in identifying and responding to the trafficking of children. Through our partnerships with major hotels and airlines - and now travel industry professionals - we are able to move beyond the front lines and take concrete steps toward ending child sex trafficking.


To access the training visit: www.ecpatusa.org/travel-elearning

To access all ECPAT-USA’s resources for travel professionals visit: www.ecpatusa.org/resources-for-travel-professionals

To donate and support ECPAT-USA’s mission protect every child’s human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking visit: www.ecpatusa.org/donate

PCMA And Business Events Join With ECPAT-USA To Eradicate Human Trafficking

PCMA has committed to combat child exploitation by signing The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. In partnership with ECPAT-USA, The Code is the only voluntary set of business principles that companies and organizations in the travel, business travel and tourism industries can implement to prevent and eradicate the trafficking and exploitation of children.

The initiative forms part of the association’s new vision that business events drive social positive transformation. Its commitment to The Code and partnership with ECPAT-USA, which engages with the private sector to drive innovation in protecting children around the world, will see the world’s largest network of business events strategists advocate, build awareness and act on the issue.

The signing of The Code was announced by PCMA Foundation Chair and President of Maritz Global Events David Peckinpaugh during the association’s annual Convening Leaders conference, taking place from Jan. 6-9, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“As an industry, currently worth over $150 billion, we have the power of advocating and raising awareness of the human trafficking epidemic, and have a stronger voice for the vulnerable, whose opinions and opportunities have been taken away from them”, said Peckinpaugh. “Together with ECPAT-USA and other participating organizations, we are committed to doing everything in our power to end human trafficking.”

Alongside other industry experts, Peckinpaugh will present a session at Convening Leaders taking an in-depth look at the human trafficking epidemic.

"One of ECPAT-USA's main focuses — and essential tools for ending child sex trafficking — is engagement with the private sector, including ensuring as many associates in the travel industry are educated about this urgent issue,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA. “This new collaborative partnership with PCMA helps expand that mission to thousands more and will help protect countless more children from exploitation."


About PCMA

PCMA educates, inspires and listens, creating meaningful experiences where passion, purpose and commerce come together. We are the world’s largest community for Business Events Strategists providing senior education and networking for the business events sector. PCMA crafts and shares knowledge and market intelligence, enabling organizations to make informed business decisions while providing a platform for peer-to-peer exchange. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA has 17 chapters throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico with members in more than 40 countries. For more information on the PCMA family of brands, visit pcma.org.

About ECPAT-USA

About ECPAT-USA: ECPAT-USA is the leading anti-child trafficking 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 ECPAT International, a network of organizations in more than 90 countries with one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children around the world. For more information, visit ecpatusa.org.


ECPAT-USA And Caesars Entertainment Announce New Partnership To Eradicate Exploitation of Vulnerable Individuals

ECPAT-USA is pleased to welcome Caesars as the first global gaming-entertainment company to sign The Code.

Caesars Entertainment, the world's most diversified casino-entertainment provider, is strengthening its commitment to end human trafficking in partnership with two global organizations that lead the fight to prevent and eradicate the issue. In observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Caesars announced it has committed to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children by signing ECPAT's Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code), and joined a premier consortium of hospitality leaders in the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), which provides a platform for companies to share best practices to end human trafficking.

"Victims of human trafficking, including those involved in the commercial sex industry, do not choose to participate. Rather, they are manipulated, brainwashed and forced based on unforeseen and, oftentimes, seemingly inescapable circumstances," said Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Caesars Entertainment. "We are deeply committed to eliminating sex trafficking and all other forms of human trafficking in our industry and beyond."

Human trafficking, which includes commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, is a complex issue and a particular challenge for the hospitality industry as it often intersects with organized crime activities including arms or drug sales and cybercrime. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), human trafficking is estimated to be a $150 billion industry each year. To combat this issue, Caesars has been actively developing comprehensive policies and protocols, including collaboration with advocacy groups and national frameworks, for several years. 

The Code is a joint venture of the tourism and hospitality sectors and ECPAT-USA, the leading policy organization in the U.S. seeking to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Caesars is the first global gaming-entertainment company to sign. A set of shared business principles that travel-related companies implement to prevent human trafficking and exploitation, The Code establishes a framework for companies to provide training, enact a value chain and educate, support and collaborate with stakeholders.

"As the first global gaming-entertainment company to sign The Code, Caesars Entertainment's efforts will be amplified through our network as we identify and respond to human trafficking and child exploitation," said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA. "ECPAT-USA is excited about the new partnership and the comprehensive angle Caesars is taking to address the issue."

Additionally, Caesars joined other hospitality industry leaders as a member of ITP. The organization is a unique industry coalition that convenes leading hotel brands that recognize the need for collective and collaborative action to achieve the group's set of "Sustainable Development Goals," including those related to human rights.

"We're delighted to welcome Caesars Entertainment to our membership and aid in its mission to prevent and address instances of human trafficking in all forms," said Madhu Rajesh, Director at ITP. "This important step forward allows Caesars and our other partners the opportunity to collaborate among like-minded and driven organizations to make an impact on human rights issues like human trafficking."

Caesars Entertainment also combats human trafficking through its pioneering, multi-year counter-trafficking program created in collaboration with international trafficking and trauma expert Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh. As part of the program, Caesars conducts customized, in-depth training of Community Engagement Ambassadors at 12 resorts in Nevada and North Carolina. Community Engagement Ambassadors are security employees who are trained to identify potential indicators of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking. The program also includes anti-trafficking videos and signage along with victim-centered and trauma-focused internal and external protocols and policies. In observance of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Caesars will honor its Las Vegas-region Community Engagement Ambassadors with two ceremonies hosted by the company's senior leadership.

"Businesses have the power to disrupt and intercept issues related to human trafficking by shifting the narrative," said Dr. Seddighzadeh. "By utilizing a victim-centered approach and training Community Engagement Ambassadors, Caesars is actively combatting commercial sexual exploitation at its roots and using business as a powerful tool for healing and change."

Caesars shares its Stance Against Human Trafficking on its website as part of its Corporate Code of Commitment. As part of Caesars' established leadership, it is a founding partner of the Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) Employers Alliance. BEST is the first public-private partnership in the nation to work across industries to prevent commercial sexual exploitation. Caesars Entertainment also participates in the American Gaming Association Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, which includes a focus on addressing human trafficking in the gaming industry. Further, the company acknowledges the potential for forced labor in supply chains, and its Responsible Supplier Statement outlines reasonable expectations for the responsible and ethical business practices of suppliers throughout its supply chain.

ABOUT ECPAT-USA
ECPAT-USA is the leading anti-child trafficking 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 ECPAT International, a network of organizations in more than 90 countries with one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children. For more information, visit ecpatusa.org.

ABOUT CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
Caesars Entertainment is the world's most diversified casino-entertainment provider and the most geographically diverse U.S. casino-entertainment company. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, in 1937, Caesars Entertainment has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions and its portfolio of subsidiaries now operate 47 casinos in 13 U.S. states and five countries. Caesars Entertainment's resorts operate primarily under the Caesars®, Harrah's® and Horseshoe® brand names. Caesars Entertainment's portfolio also includes the Caesars Entertainment UK family of casinos. Caesars Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its guests through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. Caesars Entertainment is committed to its employees, suppliers, communities and the environment through its PEOPLE PLANET PLAY framework. For more information, please visit www.caesars.com.

ABOUT THE CODE
The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, known as The Code, is the world's first and only voluntary set of business principles that travel companies can implement to prevent child trafficking. The Code provides awareness, tools, and support to travel companies, with the aim of creating a highly aware and well-trained tourism industry that can recognize and prevent potential abuse. Since its launch in 2004, more than 40 US companies have joined The Code, including some of the world's most notable airlines, hotels, and travel management companies. To learn more, visit ecpatusa.org/Code.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL TOURISM PARTNERSHIP
The International Tourism Partnership drives responsible business in the hospitality industry by engaging with the world's leading hotel companies, which collectively manage 35,000 hotels. ITP's members are Caesars Entertainment, Deutsche Hospitality, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, Hyatt, Indian Hotels Company Ltd, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, NH Hotel Group, Radisson Hotel Group, Scandic Hotels, Soneva, Whitbread and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. ITP is an initiative of Business in the Community. BITC is the Prince of Wales' Responsible Business Network. For more information on ITP and our programs visit http://tourismpartnership.org/

Cover image via Caesars Entertainment


NEW FEDERAL ANTI-TRAFFICKING LAW POINTS TO PRINCIPLES OF ECPAT CODE OF CONDUCT AS MODEL FOR TRAVEL INDUSTRY

The new U.S. anti-trafficking law, passed in Congress on Dec. 17th, says when federal employees travel they should choose travel and hospitality companies that follow the six points of the ECPAT Code of Conduct, ECPAT-USA announced today. While H.R. 2200 the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017 could not specifically identify ECPAT, the six criteria are clearly patterned after the Code of Conduct.

“ECPAT and its many travel and hospitality partners are grateful that the strong code we have developed to help company staff identify and stop trafficking has now been held up as a standard by the U.S. government,” said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. “The new law provides a focus on prevention, which we consider the next frontier in our effort to bring an end to child sexual exploitation.”

In addition to the instructions to federal employees on travel, the new law:

  • Provides training and education efforts so that employees of the travel and hospitality industries can better recognize children and adults who may be trafficked.

  • Provides for reintegration programs for the victims of trafficking.

  • Creates a new grant program to help bring anti-trafficking educational outreach to America’s schools.  

This legislation is the product of a bipartisan effort by the members of both houses of Congress and serves as a model for how successful that approach can be. ECPAT is also grateful to Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), who championed this effort in the House, and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Corker (R-TN) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who crafted the companion bill in the Senate.

“The Trafficking Victims Protection Act Reauthorization has been a top legislative priority for anti-trafficking organizations throughout the country. This new law ensures that the United States will remain the global leader in this fight to end modern human slavery. We are very proud to have worked with the members of Congress to achieve this excellent result,” said Smolenski.

For more than twenty years, ECPAT-USA has fought for and won passage of strong anti-trafficking legislation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act which was initially passed in 2000. It must be reauthorized every three years.

“We are so very pleased to see the evolution and improvement of those initial efforts in the passage of that latest version of the law,” Smolenski said.

ECPAT-USA is the oldest U.S. advocacy organization dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children. It is part of a global network of such organizations operating in over 90 countries worldwide.

The Ordinary Complicity That Puts All Children At Risk

In 1961, Hannah Arendt coined a phrase that seems so very poignant to today’s headlines.  While covering Adolph Eichman’s war crimes tribunal in Jerusalem for The New Yorker, she subtitled her subsequent book, The Banality of Evil.  The work is a meditation on how ordinary people, doing very ordinary things, can participate in monstrously evil acts.  

The Miami Herald’s blockbuster report about the Jeffrey Epstein case reminds us of how profoundly true Arendt’s observations were.  Implicated in the Miami Herald’s reporting is former U.S. Attorney, and current Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. But Epstein’s crimes, like so many human tragedies, go far beyond Acosta’s malfeasance and cowardice in the face of a wealthy child predator. For this outrageous pattern of child sexual abuse to work, many, many people had to be involved.  Drivers, schedulers, cleaning staff. All of them did their jobs. All of them turned a blind eye to what they knew was happening in front of them. “Not my problem” is the human reflex that turns many people into accomplices to tragedy.

Nor is today’s headline the only one. The outrages keep piling on.  The Catholic Church’s hierarchy has covered up thousands of cases of abuse by its clergy of both boys and girls across the globe.  In so many cases, this was done with a wink and a nod from prosecutors and law enforcement who were informed of what was going on, but were not interested in rocking the boat.  The USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar abused children under his care for many years, and while the rumors were everywhere, coaches failed to act. In 2011, Penn State administrators were discovered to have  covered up abuse by assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  The failing in all of these cases is that it is easier for society to point at the monster than to reflect on how our culture enables these monsters to grow and succeed.   

Beyond child trafficking, an even more bleak picture emerges from recent research showing the number of children whose rape and torture is captured in images (often called child pornography) and then shared in large numbers on the internet. How many people are involved in the creation and distribution of this material who say absolutely nothing?

We find again and again, in institutions we rely upon to protect and nurture children, a banality of evil.  An institution is in fact, a collection of individuals. And each of those individuals, whether at a Federal prosecutor’s office, or in a Catholic Bishop’s Diocese, or a child welfare agency, has to make that same decision to ignore the harm being done to children -- keep their heads in the sand, and pretend like nothing is wrong.    

Society’s disinterest in child welfare runs deeper still.  Who do we turn to, to provide witness and protection, to bring child molesters and child traffickers to justice?  More often than not, we place that responsibility on the victims themselves. For example, without the bravery of child trafficking survivors telling their stories while pursuing cases against enablers like Backpage.com, we would not be anywhere in Congress and the courts. Supporting survivors and giving them a platform must surely be one of the ways that our society can begin to undermine the silence that allows these systemic abuses to remain in place.  

But it cannot be the only step we take.  

Our nation is embarking on some soul-searching about sexual violence thanks to the #MeToo movement.  But we also need to have much more stocktaking and a concrete acknowledgment that it is not a child’s role to protect themselves from predators.  It is society’s job.

Our country is defined by our freedom and liberty, our Bill of Rights, our Constitution.  But in 1789, the rights of children were not under deliberation. Children belonged to parents, and little further consideration was given to their rights or legal status.  It was a very English, and property-driven view of childhood. That same 18th century view of children still echoes into our law today. And it is this view that makes it easier to live in a society where children are exploited, but for all of us to say “not my problem.”  

Ultimately, for our country to seriously tackle child sexual exploitation, we need a concrete acknowledgement that children have rights.  And our society has a responsibility to protect those rights. That responsibility is not just a parent’s job. It is not a child’s lawyer’s job nor is it just the teacher’s or school counselor’s.  It falls on all of us, every day. If we see a child being exploited, we have to find the fortitude to speak up. What a better world it would be if good, rather than evil, was the banal expectation for the lives of our children.    

This #GivingTuesday, be a champion for children

This year, on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, we are proud to join #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back that follows Thanksgiving and the major shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The holiday is dedicated to harnessing the collective power of individuals, communities, and businesses to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

ECPAT-GivingTuesday_2.jpg

For this special day of giving, we are calling on our strongest supporters to partner with us in ending child trafficking in New York City and across the country. To celebrate and encourage generosity nationwide, Facebook and PayPal are joining forces to match up to $7 million in funds raised for nonprofits in the U.S., including ECPAT-USA.

 

How to Get Involved

  • Make an individual donation by clicking here.

  • Create your own Facebook fundraiser to share with your network by clicking here.

    • In just three steps, you can encourage others to support our work to end child sex trafficking by creating your own Facebook fundraiser.

    • We will be giving away thank you gifts to the first ten individuals who are able to raise $500 through their personal Facebook fundraisers for ECPAT-USA.

 

What You Will Be Supporting

Your support on November 27th and every day helps ECPAT-USA work toward a world where no child is bought, sold or used for sex through developing groundbreaking research reports, empowering students to be leaders in their own communities, and creating tools that are training millions of employees in how to identify and respond to instances of exploitation.

TOGETHER, WE CAN END CHILD TRAFFICKING.

 

Global Business Travel Association Highlights ECPAT-USA’s Work Preventing Child Sex Trafficking

At this year’s annual convention, our partner Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) put the issue of child sex trafficking front and center. In addition to a convention-wide presentation about the exploitation of children, GBTA and American Airlines sponsored an Awareness 5k Run and Walk that helped raise $20,000 in support of ECPAT-USA’s work. Recently, Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT-USA’s Director of Private Sector Engagement, sat down with GBTA to discuss the impact of their efforts and how the travel industry as a whole can help put an end to child sex trafficking on their podcast The Business of Travel.

“The spotlight shone on the issue is something that you can’t even measure,” said Guelbart. “I had people sending me messages on LinkedIn and on email saying that we’ll never travel and look at the world the same way after seeing the presentation on the main stage. That’s incredible.”

The interview also touched on ECPAT-USA’s campaign in support of the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which GBTA joined previously by adding their name to a corporate sign-on letter urging Congress to pass the bill.

“There’s so much to be said about raising awareness of this issue,” Guelbart said. “I haven’t had a point yet where I’ve walked into a room or done an event where there wasn’t one person who said they’ve never heard about this before. You might believe that you’re talking about it enough because you talk about it once a year, but that really isn’t enough.”

Listen to the full episode below, and learn more about our partnerships with travel and tourism industry here.

ECPAT-USA Director Of Private Sector Engagement Selected As Advisor To US Department Of Transportation

ECPAT-USA is pleased to announce that Michelle Guelbart, our Director of Private Sector Engagement, has been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Guelbart is one of 15 individuals to serve on the committee.

As a member, Guelbart will provide information, advice, and recommendations to the DOT on matters relating to human trafficking. The ACHT will also develop recommended best practices to combat human trafficking for states and stakeholders in the transportation industry.

“I am honored to be selected to the Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking, and I look forward to working closely with other members and the Department of Transportation on initiatives to end child trafficking in the U.S.,” said Guelbart. “It is encouraging to see awareness of this issue being elevated to a national level, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to represent the voice of ECPAT-USA in this conversation.”