5 August 2016
One of the advantages of working with hotels on this issue is that they often already have highly developed, collaborative networks that stretch around the world. A lot of hotels in Ireland belong to hotel groups that have links in many other countries. That was why we were delighted to host a workshop in Dublin on June 27th with Malin Roux Johansson, the Director of the Swedish organisation Real Stars which runs the Hotels Against Trafficking campaign.
This campaign works with various hotels in Sweden that have sister hotels in Ireland. Malin delivered a presentation on her work to an audience composed of representatives of An Garda Siochana (the police), the Department of Justice, the Irish Hotels Federation, and various other NGOs and practitioners involved in the safeguarding of children. Through her organisation’s campaigning, many hotels in Sweden have committed to combatting trafficking. They have adopted targeted anti-trafficking policies and trained their staff about the signs of trafficking and how to respond if they suspect that there is a child being exploited on the premises. Real Stars also works in other areas to raise awareness including the fashion industry, taxi companies, and schools.
During the workshop, discussion groups were formed to consider how best to identify a victim of trafficking from the signs that might be discernible; what is the dynamic like between certain guests checking in? Does this young woman seem suspiciously uncomfortable in this man’s presence? Are there multiple men going to and from a certain room? Does that room have evidence of a lot of sexual activity going on? The groups also discussed practical ways to enhance collaboration between relevant parties in Ireland, and international collaboration with organisations like Real Stars.
This was a very productive workshop and offered a valuable opportunity to strengthen the ties between anti-trafficking projects and key organisations like the IHF (Irish Hotel Federation) and An Garda Siochana. MECPATHS will continue to build partnerships and further collaboration to end child sex trafficking in Ireland. As long as traffickers operate through efficient networks, so must we work together as effectively as possible to disrupt this vicious trade.
MECPATHS Campaign Manager