Airbnb Expands Pledge To Fight Human Trafficking Amid Hospitality Industry Struggles

March 26, 2020

Airbnb is expanding its commitment to fight human trafficking with anti-trafficking nonprofit Polaris as the hospitality industry faces a series of lawsuits claiming it’s not doing enough to curb the crime.

The work is pressing: Nearly 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, according to Polaris. Human trafficking can include everything from sexual exploitation to forced labor.

Of 383 U.S. sex trafficking cases that listed where a commercial sex act took place, 81.5% were at a hotel, according to a 2018 study from the Fairfax, Virginia-based Human Trafficking Institute.  

Airbnb has reportedly seen a variety of sex trafficking crimes at rentals: A runaway teenage girl coerced into sex acts; a 29-year-old man arrested following an underage girl found at a rental in Utah; and an alleged increase in cases in Toronto.

A chief problem in tackling human trafficking is that it is a data-poor field. “What we know about is likely the very tip of the iceberg in all forms of trafficking,” Caren Benjamin, chief communications officer at Polaris, told USA TODAY. Polaris has operated the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline for over a decade and worked on nearly 11,000 cases of human trafficking in 2018.

Airbnb’s new plan is an expansion of work that started in 2018, when the company worked with Polaris to create a training curriculum for Airbnb’s safety agents and crisis managers across the world. These employees handle safety concerns regarding reservations — whether trafficking allegations or weapon concerns, they are trained to deal with sensitive situations. This 2018 effort included training on everything from spotting signs of exploitation to how to best work with law enforcement.

To read the full story by David Oliver on USA Today: Click Here

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