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CSJs and Millenium Hotel St. Louis Partner Against Human Trafficking
|Some 900 women religious and associate members of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph met at the Millenium Hotel, St. Louis July 9-13, 2011, for an annual meeting. On July 12, Hotel General Manager Dominic Smart signed EPCAT USA’s Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. The signing culminates months of discussion and planning between the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, Nix Conference and Meeting Management and the hotel.
“Everyone in our hotel will take part in the ECPAT training and be vigilant in helping to keep human trafficking and exploitation of children out of our hotel and our community,” Smart said. “Having the Sisters of St. Joseph gather in our hotel brought this issue more clearly to our attention.”
The ECPAT acronym stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes, and the Code sets a standard of responsible business practices that effectively crack down on child sexual exploitation.
In addition to staff training, the EPCAT code calls for the tourism private sector to:
- Establish an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children.
- Introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers stating a common repudiation of commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
- Provide information (about sexual exploitation of children) to travelers.
- Provide information to local “key persons” at travel destinations.
- Report annually to the Code of Conduct Steering Committee.
EPCAT USA is a global network of organizations with 81 affiliates in 73 countries.
On behalf of the sisters, the Federation’s Executive Director Sister Kathleen McCluskey, CSJ, explained that, “Just as Jesus taught us, it’s all about building relationships of healing in our world. We wanted to host our national event at a hotel that supports this mission and spirituality. From the moment they became aware of the horror of human slavery and the role that hotels can play in combating it, the management at the Millennium has been eager to learn and take action.”
Members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph are among the many communities of women religious in the area who, through the leadership of the Sisters of Humility of Mary, formed the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking in 2007. Its mission is to educate, advocate and connect services on behalf of victims of human trafficking. Just last December Ohio passed a Human Trafficking law. Roman Catholic women religious have been key leaders in the national and international movement to stop the demand for human trafficking.Click here to read media coverage.Click here to read story from the St. Louis Beacon.