Don't join any of these group ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Shabab and Boko haram these are human traffickers

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Egyptian human rights activist fears for his life

Roberto Malini
12:02 AM (11 hours ago)
to EveryOne

By Roberto Malini - Jerusalem Post (

"Because of my work against the traffickers and my interviews given to the press, I will soon be killed," says Hamdy al-Azazy.
Rome/El Arish, June 25, 2012. The Egyptian activist, Hamdy al-Azazy, winner of the 2011 Makwan Prize forHuman Rights, has informed us that he fears his life is in danger. The human rights defender from Arish (North Sinai Governorate, Egypt) has received death threats from the traffickers in African refugees and human organs after reporting them to the Egyptian authorities and international institutions numerous times.

Azazy has documented and reported to the Egyptian authorities, the UN and the EU institutions the names and locations of the hideouts and meeting places of criminals such as Abu Senia (owner of the “Ghazala” in the center of Arish, pictured), Abu Musa, Abu Ahmed, Abu Khaled and many others.

The Egyptian activist, president of the New Generation Foundation for Human Rights of Arish, is the main collaborator and observer for EveryOne Group regarding the phenomenon of human and organ trafficking in Sinai. Thanks to his reports, and the witness statements and photographs he has collected, it has been possible to identify the prison camps in which the African migrants (usually very young people) are being held.

The prisoners are subjected to every kind of torture and humiliation – often while their relatives abroad are listening to their cries of despair at the end of the telephone line – until the ransom is paid that allows them to be released on the border with Israel. Those who try to escape are killed in cold blood, while the women prisoners are repeatedly raped, often in front of their husbands and brothers.

If relatives are unable to pay the ransom demanded (from $20,000 to $50,000 dollars according to which gang is holding them) the young people are transferred to the organ market and are killed during the removal of their kidneys.

Many corpses without kidneys have been found in the SinaiDesert, while most of the bodies are burned.

THOUSANDS OF young people from Eritrea, Ethiopia and other sub-Saharan nations have disappeared into thin air in recent years. Azazy, working closely with EveryOne Group, ICER, the NGO Gandhi, America Team for Displaced Eritreans and other humanitarian organizations, has obtained the publication of many articles that show the horrors taking place in Sinai, and later the release of several groups of hostages.

The Egyptian activist worked alongside EveryOne Group and the CNN to produce the documentary Death in the Desert, which broadcast images of the martyrdom of the refugees in Sinai throughout the world. After the documentary was shown, hundreds of refugees were released and – again under Azazy’s supervision – a Beduin task force against human trafficking was created. Working alongside the authorities, the task force, with Azazy’s constant presence, led to the release of more groups and the arrest of several traffickers.

Unfortunately, the criminals were soon released, as they are connected to the jihadist movement. Most of the proceeds from trafficking in human beings and organs, in fact, goes to finance fundamentalist armed groups, primarily Hamas.

Many leaders in this trafficking are Hamas fighters: Abu Khaled, Abu Ahmed, Abu Musa and others. The Israeli intelligence services are aware of these connections and of the presence of Hamas in Arish and all over Sinai, just as they are aware of the fact that the arms traffickers, the owners of the tunnels that link Egypt to the Gaza Strip and the migrant and organ traffickers are the same people.

The progressive affirmation of fundamentalist movements in the new Egypt, culminating in the political victories of the Muslim Brotherhood, has gradually reduced the pressure from the police, army and intelligence services on the traffickers in human beings in the Sinai.

CURRENTLY, ABOUT 1,500 refugees from Eritrea and other sub-Saharan countries are in the hands of traffickers who are asking the families of the hostages as much as $50,000 per head to ensure their release. The police are no longer taking effective action against their activities, and the Beduin task force created last year to combat the trafficking in human organs and slaves has disbanded (after losing the support of the Egyptian government), leaving the Sinai in the hands of local mafias.

“I feel that because of my work against the traffickers and my interviews given to the press, I will soon be killed,” Azazy writes to us, “pray for me.”

The most recent anti-trafficking interview given by the activist appeared yesterday in the pages of the newspaper Al-Ahram. EveryOne Group has reported the plight of Hamdy Al-Azazy to the international organization Front Line Defenders (which protects nonviolent activists around the world) and to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

“Hamdy’s work is crucial, because at least the horrors of the Sinai are being documented and reported,” said Every- One in its statement. “It is essential that the humanitarian institutions that protect the work of human rights defenders take urgent action to prevent Hamdy being harmed by the lords of refugee trafficking in Africa and the Islamic fundamentalism which profits from these criminal activities.”

Today EveryOne Group contacted the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Egyptian authorities and the EU institutions to organize relief action that will prevent the traffickers and fundamentalist movements harming the courageous human rights defender from Arish.

The writer is an Italian writer and journalist, author of essays and articles on the Holocaust and contemporary history. He is also a defender of human rights, co-president of EveryOne Group. (It is reprinted with the author’s permission and was translated by Glenys Robinson.)

Photo: Reuters

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Maid locked up without pay for 17 years in Saudi

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Kusuma Nandina, aged 57, arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 1994 and was kept as a slave in her employer’s home. (Image for illustrative purposes only)
Kusuma Nandina, aged 57, arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 1994 and was kept as a slave in her employer’s home. (Image for illustrative purposes only)
A Sri Lankan maid is to receive SAR72,000 (US$19,000) in compensation after being locked up in her Saudi Arabian sponsor’s home without pay for 17 years , it was reported.
Kusuma Nandina, aged 57, arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 1994 and was kept as a slave in her employer’s home, Arab News reported.
Aside from not receiving any wages, she was forbidden from communications with anyone, including her family in her home country.
The case apparently came under attention two years ago when Nandina’s 25-year old daughter contacted the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry saying she had not heard from her mother in years.
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Upon their initial visit to her sponsor’s home in Riyadh, the owners denied that any domestic helpers were residing there.
After several repeated attempts to find her, Nandina was eventually tracked down.  She is now preparing to head back to Sri Lanka.
The case again highlights the treatment of foreign domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia.
Last year, the Kingdom stopped issuing work visas to helpers arriving from Indonesia and the Philippines, after authorities in those countries demanded increased pay and better working conditions for their citizens.
In response, Saudi officials have said they are seeking to recruit more domestic workers from Ethiopia.

Kenya bars maids from working in MidEast

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(Image for illustrative purposes only)
(Image for illustrative purposes only)

Kenya has barred its citizens from seeking work as maids in the Middle East, due to escalating instances of mistreatment, it has been reported.
A number of correspondents say that domestic workers from the African nation have returned home with horror stories ranging from sexual abuse to a body being found stuffed into a fridge, reported BBC News.
The foreign affairs ministry said that Kenyans have been duped by agents promising non-existent jobs.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia sent a team to Kenya to discuss the issue, insisting that the Gulf state has laws in place to protect migrant workers.

The kingdom's authorities blamed brokers responsible for bringing maids to Saudi Arabia, saying that it has blacklisted some recruitment agencies.
According to the International Organisation of Migration, around 3,000 Kenyans are believed to be working in Saudi Arabia.
The Kenyan Embassy in Abu Dhabi did not immediately respond toArabian Business's request for clarification on the issue.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Family in distress as woman’s trip to Saudi takes strange twist




Updated Saturday, June 16 2012 at 21:48 GMT+3
As the quest for working abroad heightens for many skilled and semi-skilled Kenyans, only a handful know the implications of working in countries where labour laws are hardly emphasised.
Some have even ignored media reports of gross brutality toward foreign labourers in some countries and gone ahead to embark on trips abroad, expecting greener pastures only to undergo modern-day slavery.
And for Fatuma Mwatete, her story is taking a strange twist after it emerged her family cannot trace her months after she travelled to Saudi Arabia.
This worries her husband Juma Mwandodo, who fears his family will be torn apart by worries since they lost touch with Fatuma.
Mwadodo is a troubled man and fears the worse could have happened, but still hopes she could be okay.
“The last time I spoke to my wife was on January 31. This is worrying because I don’t know what could have happened to her,” Mwandodo cries out.
Fatuma travelled to Saudi Arabia on November 24, last year, and when she reached Riyadh, she called the husband to inform him she was safe and was waiting to catch the next flight to Medina.
And after two weeks, Fatuma called her husband using her employer’s telephone to inform him she was okay though she was to work as a housemaid, which was not in the agreement letter she signed with the Kenyan agent.
“My wife was a trained nurse before she left for Saudi Arabia and that’s the kind of work her agent had promised she would be offered there. But on reaching there, she was introduced to her employer, who informed her she would be a housemaid,” he says.
Mwandodo says he nonetheless encouraged the wife to take heart and continue with the work.
Back pains
But after one month, Fatuma said she had developed back pains, claiming her employer was overworking her.
In early January, she called me saying she was tired and could no longer work because of back pains. She also claimed she was denied food for two days by her employers after refusing to work owing to the pains,” he recalls.
The wife further told Mwandodo her employers threatened to report her to the authorities for allegedly failing to work. He became worried and opted to call the Kenyan agent to bring Fatuma back home.
“But when I called the agent demanding my wife back, she told me that I should stop worrying and that my wife was okay and had been transferred to another employee who offered better terms,” added Mwandodo.
However, after three weeks, his wife called him again asking him to do anything within his reach to ensure her return to Kenya, saying the working conditions were harsh.
Gave report
“I then decided to confront the agent. I threatened to sue her, but she brushed me off and ignored me altogether. I went to the Central Police Station in Mombasa and reported the incident but I could not get much help,” he says.
He sought the services of a lawyer, but since he did not have details to prove his wife had travelled to Saudi Arabia, he did not get much help.
But the worst of his worries came when the wife stopped calling him. He tried to call all the numbers she had previously used to no avail.
“It is six months now. I haven’t heard from my wife. I don’t know if she is okay. The silence is a mystery to me,” said he.
But the said employment agent Maimuna Hassan of Asali Commercial Agents denied knowing Mwandodo.
“When Fatuma came to my office to look for help, she said she was single and she only wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to look for greener pastures. I have never met Mwandondo,” claims Hassan.
Hassan says Fatuma was okay and that she was communicating with her mother and that she was not aware of a man claiming to be her husband.



  Kenya suspends recruitment of workers to Middle East

Kenya suspends recruitment of workers to Middle East


Updated Friday, June 22 2012 at 17:28 GMT+3
By Joylene Sing’oei
The Government has suspended recruitment and export of domestic workers to Middle East following several complaints of harassment by employers.
In a press statement released Friday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Political and Diplomatic Secretary Patrick Wamoto said many Kenyans seeking employment in the Middle East as domestic workers especially housekeepers and maids have ended up in distress.
Wamoto added that the complains the ministry receive range from mistreatment, lack of payment of salaries, overwork, denial of food and lack of communication with their relatives in Kenya.
“The Government wishes to reiterate its commitment to the protection and welfare of all citizens, including those outside the country. We are working on a mechanism, including but not limited to, vetting of all recruitment agents afresh and signing of Labour frameworks Agreement with various countries to address some of the concerns raised by the distressed Kenyans in the Middle East”, read part of the Statement.
Most of the Kenyan migrants to Middle East earn their livelihoods as drivers, technicians, salesmen, security guards, engineers, accountants, bankers and domestic workers.
Cases of Kenyans being abused and even killed in Saudi Arabia have been on the increase.
As the quest for working abroad heightens for many skilled and semi-skilled Kenyans, only a handful know the implications of working in countries where labour laws are hardly emphasised.
Some have even ignored media reports of gross brutality toward foreign labourers in some countries and gone ahead to embark on trips abroad, expecting greener pastures only to undergo modern-day slavery.

maids barred from Mid-East


  • t
Een Nuraeni (L) daughter of Indonesian migrant worker Ruyati, cries during a protest against the execution of her mother outside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Jakarta on June 21, 2011Last year, Indonesia introduced a similar ban after a maid was executed in Saudi Arabia
Kenya has stopped its citizens from seeking jobs as domestic workers in the Middle East, saying increasing numbers have been mistreated.
Correspondents say Kenyans have returned with horror stories; from sexual abuse to a maid's body found stuffed into a fridge.
The foreign affairs ministry says Kenyans have duped by unscrupulous agents who promise non-existent jobs.
It says it will now vet all agents recruiting housekeepers and maids.
Until the new rules are ready, Kenyan citizens are barred from seeking work in the Middle East as domestic workers.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia sent a team to Kenya to discuss the issue.
The Saudi government insisted their laws protect foreign workers.
It also blames brokers and says it has blacklisted some recruitment agencies from dealing with them.
Some 3,000 Kenyans are believed to be working in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Organization of Migration.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moroccans employ more than 30,000 child maids: official English

Once passed, the law against child labor would provide for prison terms and heavy fines in Morocco for anybody who employs a child under 15 as household help. (File photo)
Once passed, the law against child labor would provide for prison terms and heavy fines in Morocco for anybody who employs a child under 15 as household help. (File photo)


More than 30,000 children under the age of 15 are employed in Morocco as domestic servants, according to figures released Tuesday by the planning ministry.

A law banning this practice was drawn up by the previous government but has still not been passed by parliament.

During a seminar on Saturday in Rabat, a rights group stressed that the employment of under-age maids was “the result of poverty, illiteracy and the lack of infrastructure in rural zones,” where most child workers come from.

The “little maids” are for the most part “badly paid and submitted to physical and economic violence.”
Once passed, the law against child labor would provide for prison terms and heavy fines for anybody who employs a child under 15 as household help.

“This is a shame for our country, a catastrophe, these figures are alarming,” Fouzia Assouli, president of the Federation of the Democratic League of Women's Rights, told AFP.

“We have ceaselessly pointed out, within the collective that includes a large number of associations, the seriousness of this phenomenon of domestic labor by minors for about 10 years, in order to obtain a regulation in the Labor Code,” she added.

“All this is the responsibility of the state, and even if it's a matter of people's attitude, it is up to the state to change that outlook and if need be to penalize it,” she concluded.

Maid rental, smuggling becomes rampant in Saudi Arabia English

The latest shortage in maids in Saudi Arabia, which many families in the kingdom rely on, has boosted the maid rental market run by a group of brokers. (Al Arabiya)
The latest shortage in maids in Saudi Arabia, which many families in the kingdom rely on, has boosted the maid rental market run by a group of brokers. (Al Arabiya)


Restrictions on foreign labor recruitment have driven many Saudi families to resort to the illegal practice of maid rental in order to cover the shortage.

According to Saudi law, a maid has to only work for her sponsor, who is responsible for her legal and financial status as long as she stays in the kingdom. Violators of this law are fined 30,000 riyals and banned from recruiting maids for five years.

However, the latest shortage has boosted the maid rental market run by a group of brokers who make each maid work in more than one house.
In addition to the laws that govern that recruitment of foreigners, the cost of recruitment has become excessively high, amounting to 18,000 riyals.

This has made it easier for many families to resort to maid rental brokers especially with their domestic needs increasing as the holy month of Ramadan draws near.

Only a few licensed companies that are to open soon to solve the domestic help crisis will be allowed to engage with maid rental, according to head of recruitment in the Mecca region Abdullah al-Alian.

“As for individuals, they are not allowed to rent maids or offer their maids for rent even if the maid agrees,” he told Al Arabiya.

There are cases, he explained, when a family chooses to hand over its maid to relatives for a while on a friendly basis and this is allowed.

“Otherwise, it is absolutely illegal,” he added.

Alian said that the maid rental phenomenon has encouraged maids to run away from their employers’ houses to take advantage of the increasing need for domestic help.

“They know they will get more money if they work in other houses, so they run away.”

Brokers are not the only ones involved in maid rental, for some Saudi families make a living by lending their maids.

“The money I get from offering my maid for rent is what I live on. I get a total of 3,200 riyals per month and I raised the maid’s salary from 800 to 1,200 after I started the rent business,” said 60-year-old Om Nasser.

Om Nasser added that she is aware what she is doing is against the law, yet she has no other means of making money.

“Had it not been for this maid, I and my children would have starved.”

For Sara, offering her maid for rent helps other Saudi families who cannot afford paying recruitment fees.

“In addition to exorbitant fees, recruitment from countries that have the best maids like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Nepal has stopped so there aren’t many options left,” she told Al Arabiya.

Sara argued that it is much better for families to rent the maids from other families than to go to one of those brokers.

“Isn’t renting a maid from a known family much better than renting an escapee you know nothing about?”

Sara explained that she had paid 16,000 riyals to hire her maid and that she has to make up for this amount.

“I need money to cover the maid’s expenses. She needs food, medical care, and a salary so at the end of the day the profit I get for myself is very meager.”

Om Ali, who rents four maids every day, says that as Ramadan approaches, household chores are doubled and renting maids becomes a must.

“Even families who already have one maid will need others to help with the Ramadan load,” she said.

Maid wages, Om Ali explained, are higher in Ramadan so that daily payment would go up from 180 to 250 riyals.

“Maid rental is an entire budget in Ramadan like food.”

Om Fahd, who supervises the rental of several maids with an hourly rate, said that the real challenge for her is making sure of the reputation of the family she will rent the maid to in order to ensure her safety.

“The maid also makes more money under this system for she makes an extra 20 percent of the salary she gets with the original family when she works for another family,” she said.

However, a large portion of maids are not satisfied with this system.
For Simyati from Nepal, the 20 percent she gets is much less than the effort she makes.

Mahbouba from Ethiopia said that many times she has to work more than the hours agreed upon which makes her extremely exhausted.

“In all cases, I can’t leave the house if it’s not all cleaned so I might stay more hours and I hardly sleep,” she said.

According to Mahbouba, the contracts she signs say she should only work for eight hours a day and is entitled to one day off per week.

“But this never happens on the ground.”

Maid rental fees are expected to decline with the establishment of new companies specialized in maid recruitment and with prices that are much less than those paid by families to hire maids.

Chairman of the National Recruitment Committee at the Saudi Chambers Council Saad al-Baddah said that the Saudi Recruitment Company will start it work two weeks before the holy month of Ramadan.

“This will be the first company to work in the recruitment of maids and applying will be through the company’s website,” he said.

Baddah added that this new system will help in getting rid of illegal brokers who have opened a black market for maids and will make wages much less.

“The system will also curb the phenomenon of escaping maids because it will be very difficult for them to work in other houses since we will make sure all families get their need of domestic help.”

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kimberly Ritter could not believe what she was seeing.


Girls wearing almost nothing at all, suggesting all sorts of sexual acts, listed on page after page of's escorts section. When she looked closer at the photos, she noticed something eerie.
She could recognize the rooms.
Ritter is a meeting planner at Nix Conference and Meeting Management of St. Louis. She and her co-workers work with 500 hotels around the world and visit about 50 properties annually. She can identify many hotel chains used in escort ads by their comforters, bathroom sinks, air conditioning units and door locks. Sometimes, she can also identify a specific property.
Meet Kimberly Ritter, sex trafficking sleuth.
A child protection code of conduct
Meeting planner Kimberly Ritter
Meeting planner Kimberly Ritter
Ritter has become a force in the international anti-trafficking movement, where she uses her expertise to identify the mainstream middle-end and high-end hotels used by traffickers.
She negotiates with hotels to fight trafficking at their properties, while also trying to convince hotel general managers that it's good business to fight trafficking through signing the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, a voluntary set of principles that businesses can adopt to fight trafficking. Her firm has created a version of the code for meeting planners and was the first signatory a few weeks ago.
Ritter hopes to recruit other planners to sign on to the code.
Once Ritter and her co-workers realized they could have an impact, "we thought this should be something all meeting planners could do," she said.
Although anti-trafficking organizations can't be sure how many people are forced into commercial sex work, the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking estimates that human trafficking is a $32 billion business worldwide, with $15.5 billion coming from industrialized countries. (That includes forced sexual and nonsexual commercial labor of adults and children.)
Is website to blame for killings?
Backpage defends sexy ads
New exhibit on modern-day slavery
An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sex exploitation in the United States, according to End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), which created the tourism code. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (888-373-7888) has recorded 46,000 phone calls over the past four years requesting information, reporting tips about trafficking and connecting about 3,600 victims of sex trafficking to social services. (The hotline takes calls about sex or labor trafficking.)
Trafficking isn't simply sex for sale
Sex trafficking isn't prostitution, which is engaging in sex with someone for payment. The crime of sex trafficking has three parties: one person holding the victim, while using "force, fraud or coercion" to make the victim engage in sex acts for payment, and the third party paying for the sex, said Brad Myles, executive director of thePolaris Project, which operates the hotline with funding from the U.S. government. If the victim is a child, no force, fraud or coercion is required for the sex to be a crime.
Escort ads posted online don't obviously state that sex with children is being sold, Ritter said, but customers who want children know to look for words like "fresh," "candy" and "new to the game." The underage victims are often runaways and victims of sexual abuse who are vulnerable to pimps promising modeling jobs, money, food and drugs.
After a pimp and customer make a deal, usually online or over the phone, hotels are an obvious place where the sex can take place. "There's privacy, a neutral place for a customer to come to, certain amount of anonymity and you don't have to stay long term," said Noelle Collins, an assistant U.S. attorney and human trafficking coordinator for the Eastern District of Missouri, who prosecutes these cases. "This can happen anywhere, but hotels are logical places where it could be found."
Sex trafficking wasn't on Ritter's mind when she met with the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph to book the federation's 2011 conference. That year, the nuns decided to take a stand on the issue. "We've always done some type of social action [at our conference]," said Sister Patty Johnson, executive director of the federation, which encompasses the 16 congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States. "We like to leave the city [we visit] a tiny bit better than when we came."
The nuns told Nix they wanted their hotel to sign the tourism code of conduct developed byECPAT, a worldwide network of organizations and individuals that fights commercial sex exploitation of children. Hilton Worldwide, Wyndham Worldwide, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (which includes the Radisson brand) and Delta Air Lines are all signatories to the code. After Ritter's initial online research turned up hotels she recognized, she agreed to raise the issue with their potential venues.
Hotels can train to fight trafficking
Many hotel executives have security measures designed to fight trafficking but express concern about being publicly identified with the issue. An exception is Millennium Hotel St. Louis general manager Dominic Smart. After learning about the problem, Smart got his parent company's permission to become a pilot program. Often, hotel executives don't want customers to think their hotels have a prostitution or sex trafficking problem. (The code requires annual reporting.) Smart, who said he hasn't had a case yet, didn't worry about it.
"We felt it was our responsibility to get involved and fight human trafficking," said Smart, whose hotel signed onto ECPAT, went through training for managers and line staff, and hosted the nuns' conference.
Training of hotel staff is key, said Michelle Gulebart, project coordinator for ECPAT-USA. Hotel managers may never spot the signs of sex trafficking, but housekeeping and room service employees often know something isn't right. They're just not sure what. "Hotel rooms are used as venues for exploitation," Gulebart said. "A pimp might hold up one or two girls in a room and might run traffic out of a room. They'll post ads on a website and send a girl to the room next door."
Red flags to watch for: Someone besides the guest rents a room, checks in without luggage and leaves the hotel. The child left in the room may seem confused about his or her own name; may appear helpless, ashamed, nervous or disoriented; may show signs of abuse such as bruising in various stages of healing; or may have tattoos that reflect money or ownership.
The child usually doesn't have any spending money or identification; cannot make eye contact; and wears clothes printed with slogans such as "Daddy's Girl" or inappropriate clothes for the weather. Sometimes, the child will come on to various men during the check-in process.
"We've trained them on the red flags, what to look for," Smart said. "If they see them, they report it to their manager and we would take over from there. The manager can assess and go to the police if need be."
Guests can report signs of trafficking
Hotel guests can also keep their eyes open for those red flags, said social worker Theresa Flores, an Ohio-based survivor of underage sex trafficking and an anti-trafficking activist. Guests who see the red flags can simply call the national hotline to report their suspicions, without ever leaving their names. Flores often travels to cities with big sports events and political conventions to educate hotel and motel owners, donating thousands of bars of soap listing the hotline for victims and witnesses to trafficking.
Most of the country's state attorneys generaland many anti-trafficking activists blame and other websites for not doing enough to fight sex trafficking. Backpage's lawyer says the company takes many steps to fight the problem.
"Any adult ads that are posted are monitored in real time, 24/7," wrote Steve Suskin, legal counsel for Village Voice Media, which owns Backpage, in an e-mailed statement to "All nudity is banned, even for adult ads, and anyone who attempts to post an ad that's suggestive of an underage or exploited minor is immediately reported to NCMEC [the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children], which is designated by the FBI to alert local law enforcement to rescue any child at risk in a hotel or other location."
Unlike other websites, Backpage doesn't allow Web posters to post anonymously, Suskin wrote.
"Backpage charges $1.00 to post in personals, because it holds users accountable and provides credit card information to police so they can identify, locate, arrest and prosecute those who use common carriers to prey on children," he wrote. "We continue to invest millions of dollars in human, technological, and other resources to detect and report suspected child predators and to help law enforcement apprehend and prosecute them."
With so much of the sex trafficking business migrating to the Internet, the crime still has to take place somewhere. "Hotels can really be part of the solution," said Myles, the Polaris Project executive director. "These are crimes, these are ways that women are being mistreated, and these are forms of violence against women. A lot of hotels don't want to be associated with it."