January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the U.S.

02/01/2012 - January is set as a permanent month of awareness for those who are denied their basic fundamental human rights by human trafficking in the US and around the world.

The statistics are bleak, and in a country like the US 90% of human trafficking is sex trafficking, and an estimated 80% of human trafficking victims are females and 50% are children.

There are approximately 100,000 to 300,000 children forced into prostitution yearly in the United States alone. Global figures are in the millions.

Hotels and resorts have been receiving more attention over accountability issues regarding human and sex trafficking. One group, meeting planners, has taken the initiative to sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct is an industry driven responsible tourism initiative in collaboration with End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT) International, funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and supported by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Companies who sign onto the Code are now working to encourage their industry peers and competitors to address human and sex trafficking at every hotel where they do business.

Kimberly Ritter, Senior Account Manager and Coordinator of conference and meeting planning company Nix, claims that “Child sex trafficking is widespread, occurring right now even at luxury hotels in the United States. Most hotel executives have no idea this exploitation of children exists at their properties. Once they become aware, however, they can establish policies and train staff to identify and take action against child sex trafficking.”

 As part of their commitment to end child sex trafficking, Nix recently added a clause to their standard Request for Proposal inquiring about hotel policies on human trafficking.

As a company, Nix seeks to discuss child sex trafficking and exploitation in one-on-one meetings with hotel general managers, provide written materials, and by encouraging them to sign the ECPAT-USA Code of Conduct for hotels.

Meeting planners who adopt the Meeting Planner's Code of Conduct agree to establish an internal social responsibility policy, implement an action plan with objectives and timeframes, and report annually.

Trafficking networks operate both domestically and internationally, and although abuses disproportionally affect women and girls, the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women, and children of all ages.

Wednesday, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.