"I've been [trafficked] inside many top hotels... and quite often when I would walk in, the recptionist or the employees would notice, our eyes would meet and they would recognize it and know something's not right. There's never been a time where they've said anything." Survivor Katrina Owens quoted int he trafficking documentary "What I Have Been Through is Not Who I Am"
January marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month, a sobering designation to raise awareness around the devastating, and widely misrepresented, issue of human trafficking. Research shows that traffickers are drawn to hotels as an anonymous place for sex trafficking, commonly known as prostitution. As such, we’ve been working on leadership solutions at Caesars properties and communities throughout the U.S. In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we will aim to educate on the true nature of this topic and share how Caesars is working to end human trafficking.
First, to understand the issue as whole, you must first understand what it isn’t. Because of the lack of awareness around the topic, and the ways in which it is portrayed in popular culture (think the 2008 Liam Neeson film “Taken”), there are many misconceptions around human trafficking, especially sex trafficking. People wrongly assume that victims are involved by their own free will, and that trafficking is a victimless crime – in other words, though it’s against the law, nobody is harmed by it. This assumption is very dangerous, as it portrays people involved in the commercial sex industry as making a “choice.” In fact, victims are typically manipulated, brainwashed and violently controlled by pimps, more correctly known as traffickers.
Second, it helps to understand some myths around human trafficking, including:
· MYTH: The term “trafficked persons” applies only to people brought to the U.S. from other countries.
FACT: The federal definition of human trafficking includes both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens who are on U.S. soil and who experience force, fraud or coercion at the hands of a trafficker. They are therefore considered victims under the law.
· MYTH: Victims of human trafficking see themselves as victims and as having been exploited.
FACT: Not all victims of trafficking self-identify as such. They may not even be aware how deeply entrenched they are in a trafficking situation.
· MYTH: Victims of human trafficking are female.
FACT: Victims of human trafficking can also be male. They are of all ages, walks of life, socioeconomic status and sexual orientations. LGBTQ survivors of trafficking are often under-identified as an affected group and may experience increased vulnerability to trafficking, especially if they are ostracized by family or friends for their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Next week, we’ll learn more about myths and misconceptions related to human trafficking from one of Caesars Entertainment’s Community Engagement Ambassadors.