As the world's eyes focus on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this month, hotel workers in Rio will have their eyes trained on something else entirely — they will be watching out for telltale signs of human trafficking.
With as many as half a million visitors expected to visit Brazil for the Olympics, the global hospitality industry is seizing on the moment as an opportunity to address two important issues at once: human trafficking and youth unemployment. The two are closely related. The lack of economic opportunity leaves youth vulnerable to human traffickers who lure them into forced labor and sexual exploitation. Once liberated from their captors, survivors face enormous challenges in resuming their lives, including finding jobs.
Hotels, as it turns out, are uniquely positioned to address both of those issues. Because hotels are places where trafficking can happen, hotel staff working on the front lines can help by picking up clues of sexual exploitation. And as employers, hotels are able to offer career-readiness training and entry-level jobs for young survivors of human trafficking.