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Josephite Federation – modeling anti-trafficking with Millennium Hotel

by | Jul 14, 2011 | Justice and Peace

Modeling what can be done by leveraging efforts at consciousness raising about human trafficking  the Josephite federation announced the successful completion of a two-year collaboration effort with the Millennium Hotel St. Louis, where the sisters’ gathering was held July 9-13.

Although the collaborative effort only included one hotel in St. Louis, Gallagher said its impact will “reach all over the world” because of the support of Nix Conference & Meeting Management, a St. Louis based company that helped organize the sisters’ gathering. The company’s Web site says the company helps plan conferences “on four continents.”

“The collaboration and the potential for continuing this conversation….through the hotel industry has been both humbling and beyond our imagination,” said Gallagher.

The agreement, signed Tuesday between the hotel and a network of organizations known as Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking-USA (ECPAT), mandates that the hotel follow six guidelines to prevent trafficking, including training personnel in how to prevent the practice and placing a clause in all contracts with suppliers to repudiate it.

Gallagher, the director of communications for the Boston congregation of the St. Joseph Sisters, said discussions with the hotel first came together as the sisters’ federation was deciding where to host its gathering two years ago. While discussing logistics with several different hotels, the sisters realized many “did not know very much, if anything about human trafficking.”

At that point, Gallagher said, the gathering’s planning committee decided to use the opportunity to educate on the issue and try to use it as a way of “corporate witness” to “get to the root of the problem.”

Following a series of conversations between the sisters and the hotel, ECPAT’s executive director, Carol Smolenski, told NCR the hotel submitted an application to be included as signers on the advocacy group’s “Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism,” which was created in 1998 and has been signed by more than 1,000 companies world-wide.

We were initally “shocked and skeptical that they would actually sign it,” said Smolenski, as there have been “few American companies that have been willing to sign the agreement.”

But, said Smolenski, the “sisters carried the ball the whole way. They carried forth the whole discussion.”

The executive director said the agreement is particularly important for hotels to sign, as many traffickers use hotel rooms for prostitution.

“They need to train their staffs about what to look for,” she said.

After Tuesday’s announcement, Gallagher said the nine members of the planning committee went to the hotel’s basement to visit with maintenance and housekeeping staff. As they entered one of the rooms, she said the staff “burst out into applause.”

“To see that — I was just in tears,” she said.

Although the collaborative effort only included one hotel in St. Louis, Gallagher said its impact will “reach all over the world” because of the support of Nix Conference & Meeting Management, a St. Louis based company that helped organize the sisters’ gathering. The company’s Web site says the company helps plan conferences “on four continents.”

“The collaboration and the potential for continuing this conversation….through the hotel industry has been both humbling and beyond our imagination,” said Gallagher.

 

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