Following Connecticut’s footsteps, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, has teamed up with author and activist Anneke Lucas to promote a new bill that would require staff at hotels, motels, inns and boarding houses to undergo mandatory training to recognize human sex trafficking and provide aid to victims if they see it occur.
Lucas is a child sex trafficking survivor who endured a terrible childhood as a slave in an elite Belgian pedophile ring beginning in 1969. She runs a special program at Rikers Island Jail Complex in New York City with the goal of providing comfort to incarcerated survivors of sex trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry and young girls and boys are being victimized every day in New York,” said Paulin, “regardless of whether they live in an urban, suburban or rural area.”
The bill (A.06834) requires a standardized training program that addresses the nature of human trafficking; how it is defined in state law; how to identify trafficking victims; relief and recovery options for survivors; and social and legal services available to victims.
The legislation would also require all lodging facilities to post signs in a visible place spelling out what human trafficking is. The notice must all contain information on how to get help by contacting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.
Lucas created a petition to build support for Paulin’s bill.
“A law like this could help children who are trafficked in New York,” Lucas writes on her Care2 petition. Speaking from her own experience, she says, “I would have found a way to call the hotline had I seen a notice.”
At a very young age, Lucas’s mother sold her into an elite pedophile network run by a Belgian cabinet minister. She now works with trafficking victims in New York, and believes Paulin’s bill could help save children who are suffering from the same fate she once did.
“When I was just six years old, my parents sold me into a child sex trafficking ring in Belgium,” Lucas writes on the petition in support of Paulin’s bill. “For five and a half years, I was raped and abused. At the age of 11, I was tortured and nearly murdered.”
Her goal for her Care2 petition for Paulin’s bill is 55,000 signatures, and there are currently more than 54,600 signatures in support of the bill.
Paulin says traffickers capitalize on the lack of awareness on the part of hotel staff, managers and executives who often do not know what to look for or what questions to ask or are unaware that human trafficking can occur at their hotels.
“Pimps, are very clever, and they might find a way of avoiding hotels [with the signs],” said Paulin. “But if there’s uniformity, they can’t avoid all the hotels.”
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has received more than 14,000 reports of sex trafficking in the U.S. since 2007.
Earlier this year, Marriott International, which owns the Ritz Carlton brand, established mandatory human trafficking training for all employees at its 6,000 properties worldwide, providing them with the skills and resources needed to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Paulin’s bill would give hotels, motels, lodges, inns and boarding houses in New York six months to begin offering similar training programs. The training programs would have to be approved or developed by the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in consultation with the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking.
“Traffickers often capitalize on the lack of awareness on the part of hotel staff, managers and executives who often do not know what to look for or what questions to ask or are unaware that human trafficking can occur at their hotels,” Paulin said. “This training will help prevent traffickers from using hotels and motels as a base of operations.”