NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Human trafficking is a growing problem, not just around the world, but right here in Connecticut. The number of calls to the Department of Children and Families reporting human trafficking keeps growing every year.
Today, lodging industry workers got educated in what they should look for to help stop the exploitation.
“At some point they’re either taken to a hotel or a motel, or they’re meeting traffickers at hotels and motels,” explained Erin Williamson of the International Anti-Trafficking agency Love 146. The group is based in New Haven and, unfortunately, fighting trafficking is a growth industry.
“We actually just this past July, received significant funding and were able to hire 10 new staff, so that’s a large amount and the staff is working throughout the state of Connecticut,” Williamson said.
The sex trafficking industry has changed a lot in recent years, thanks mainly to technology. Street corner prostitution has declined because you can order a prostitute on your phone, using apps as mainstream as Tinder and Snapchat. That is why it is so important to include the lodging industry, because regardless of how someone finds their prostitute, they still need a place to get together.
“Some of our members might be experiencing human trafficking in their hotels and might not be aware of it, so this is an educational opportunity for our members,” Connecticut Lodging Association spokesperson Ginny Kozlowski.
A motel or hotel could experience out-calls, where one guest calls out and a sex worker comes to him. Or there are in-calls, where a sex worker stays in a room and is visited by multiple men. Workers can help law enforcement by watching who is visiting, and keeping track of frequent guests.
“You certainly wouldn’t want your business, regardless of whether it’s a lodging business or a restaurant business, to be in something so nefarious,” said Kozlowski.
If anyone still thinks of prostitution as a victimless crime, consider this: Most of the trafficking referrals DCF gets are about trafficked children who are 13, 14 and 15 years old.