Are Hotels Enabling Sex Trafficking in Indiana?
Sex traffickers often solicit business from hotels and motels where illegal practices are easily hidden within the anonymous nature of the industry.
Hotel Sex Trafficking on the Rise
Sex trafficking is often hidden in plain sight where illegal activities are conducted in legitimate businesses. Modern-day sex trade operations are found in travel agencies, car dealerships, nightclubs, and massage parlors, but the most lucrative operations are found in the hotel and motel industry. Sex traffickers often solicit lucrative partnerships with hotels and motels because these businesses provide privacy and anonymity for guests.
In the underground world of sex trafficking, statistics are difficult to confirm because many victims never come forward. In most cases, especially with teens and young adults, victims never reach out for help or report abuse to an injury lawyer because they are threatened with physical harm. Manipulative pimps commonly use abusive behavior as a means of control. In high-risk areas, street gangs who prostitute underage girls often make deals with hotel/motel owners to set aside rooms for a percentage of profits.
Although hotel sex trafficking is done in the shadows, there are common signs that signal red flags for prostitution and sex trafficking operations:
- Inappropriate attire for age and/or weather conditions
- Excessive traffic in and out of rooms at all hours
- Groups of young males/females with an older adult
- Rooms with multiple computers and card swipe technology
- Rooms with excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs, and sex paraphernalia
- Rooms with photography equipment
In 2007, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) estimated that the sex-trafficking economy in eight major cities ranged between $39 million and $290 million. Over 67 percent of sex traffic workers stated that sex acts were performed in local hotel or motel rooms. In 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded 3,596 calls reporting illegal sex acts in hotels and motels. In 2019, the National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded 157 calls reporting sex trafficking in Indiana, and 40 of those calls involved sex trafficking of minors.
In Indiana, IPATH works with sex trafficking victims through multiple groups. While the Adult Victim Services Committee focuses on the needs of adult victims, the Youth Victim Services Committee focuses on juvenile needs. Committees work in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, Indiana injury lawyers, advocacy groups, and community leaders to help victims of sex trafficking operations. C.A.P. E. (Community, Awareness, Prevention, Education) works to raise awareness of Indiana sex trafficking and provide help to Indiana victims.