The fourth component of the Protected Innocence Initiative is “Criminal Provisions for Facilitators.” Hotels are perhaps one of the most well recognized facilitators in the sex trafficking industry. At hotels young children are taken by their traffickers and sold to dozens of men a night. Airlines and taxis also act as facilitators in the sex trafficking industry.
Through the Protected Innocence Initiative, Shared Hope is providing recommendations on how to strengthen state laws to adequately penalize and criminalize the facilitation of child sex trafficking. These measures include criminalizing the facilitation of trafficking through the state human trafficking law and making the promotion of child sex tourism illegal.
Recognizing the critical role facilitators play in the exploitation of children, some hotels and airlines have taken it upon themselves to no longer act as facilitators in the child sex trade. Here are some of the positive steps hotels and airlines have taken in order to stop child sex trafficking.
Airlines are often used by traffickers to transport their victims to domestic and international locations. Carol Smolenski, U.S. Director of End Child Prostitution, Child Prostitution, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT), says that sex tourists fall into two categories “preferential child abusers” or “situational child abusers.” “Preferential abusers” have a preference for having sex with children, while “situational abusers” may not be particularly interested in children, but may try having sex with them to try something new, particularly while abroad. Smolenski believes that the second group may be educated through public awareness campaigns to change their behavior. For instance, in order to discourage child sex trafficking, Air-France runs in-flight videos against child sex tourism. These videos are played on 94 of the airline’s long-distance flights and are viewed by up to 46,000 passengers a day. Ten other airlines have also used the video, though currently no United State’s airlines have agreed to show videos discouraging child sex tourism on their flights.
U.S. airlines have taken a stand to fight child sex trafficking through the “Flight Attendant Initiative” which was designed by Innocence at Risk. The “Flight Attendant Initiative” requires airline personal to be educated on recognizing and reporting human trafficking on flights. Flight attendants also wear wristbands with the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) so they can report suspicious activity from the air. So far, one third of American Airlines’ 19,000 flight attendants received the training. It is expected the program will soon expand to other airlines.
A second industry that has taken a stand against child sex trafficking is the hotel industry. ECPAT released a document entitled “The Code” that hotels and travel agencies may sign to show they are working to combat child trafficking. Since it’s inception in 1998, 1,030 companies have signed the ECPAT Code of Conduct to combat child sex trafficking, though only six American companies have signed.
These efforts, combined with stronger state penalties for those individuals and organizations that facilitate the sale of children, will help end child sex trafficking. To find out the level of your state’s legal response to facilitators, join us on December 1 when we release all 51 state Report Cards at the National Association of Attorneys General winter meeting in San Antonio, Texas. We hope you’ll tune in the rest of the week for more information on the initiative.