As a member of Redstone’s Education Committee, I recently had the chance to express my thoughts and spread awareness on a very important topic to me – Human Trafficking Prevention, and specifically human trafficking prevention in the events industry. Since January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, I decided to share some helpful information about its significance and the small actions we can all do to make a difference – especially when working in hospitality, events and association management.
Admittedly, for the longest time I found that this is one of those topics that was never top of mind. With the type of hotels I’ve worked at and places I’ve stayed, I doubted that things like this happened in these environments (foolish I know). However, after attending a Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT) workshop, I quickly learned how inaccurate this is and how much of a difference we can make – especially as a professional who travels frequently and plan meetings and events. MPAHT is a Toronto-based organization creating awareness of the issue of human trafficking in Canada in the event industry. It is composed of industry leaders (who I consider mentors) in the GTA. Their focus is to drive collaboration and spread awareness on human trafficking that may be taking place at events and through allied partners including hotels and airlines. A top priority for this volunteer-based organization is to provide education and resources for the meetings and conference industry at large. I highly recommend visiting MPAHT website at www.mpaht.com. They are also looking for volunteers to help with communications & marketing, social media ambassadors, content development, and website strategy.
One of the helpful resources they shared during the workshop I attended (that I highly recommend you all download) is the TraffickCam App. TraffickCam enables you to help combat trafficking by uploading photos of the hotel rooms you stay in when you travel. Traffickers regularly post photographs in hotel rooms for online advertisements, and these photographs are evidence that can be used to find and prosecute the perpetrators. For investigators to effectively use these photo advertisements, they must be able to determine where the photos were taken. The purpose of TraffickCam is to create a database of hotel room images that an investigator can efficiently search in order to find other images that were taken in the same location as an image that is part of an investigation.
There are also other ways outside of work you can spread awareness and help with this issue. While living in PEI, I had the opportunity to meet Robin Newman who is a Co-Founder of Studio Jayne. Studio Jayne is a design and innovation studio that works on projects that deal with gender-based violence, reproductive rights, sex trafficking, and advancing rights for women and girls. Studio Jayne is currently building and scaling Likely Story (Formerly ‘That’s Sus’)—a digital game that, on the surface, is about how to deal with awkward romantic relationship scenarios. However, all of the content in the game is based on how pimps and traffickers use romantic relationships to coerce girls into sex trafficking. The game is not meant to scare, but rather to give the most likely victims of trafficking, teenage girls, a medium to explore, discuss, and understand a complicated issue. By incorporating humor and funny moments, the game creates a safe space for girls to discuss more challenging topics candidly. The game can help girls figure out how to say no and how to play out a scenario before it could happen in real life. This gives her the tools to navigate a challenging real-life event. Click here to try it out!
For additional information on Human Trafficking, please visit Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking. In addition to providing general information about the topic, they also have useful educational resources and a Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline that operates 24 hours, 7 days a week (1-833-900-1010).
Overall, I find Human Trafficking can be something you don’t think is happening around you, but it is worth actively watching and paying attention while travelling – and it doesn’t matter if it is an old motel or a high-end resort. If you see something, don’t dismiss it, report it. You could be saving a life.