(DES MOINES) – Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg announced a new statewide initiative Tuesday to fight the growing number of sex trafficking cases taking place in Iowa’s hotels and motels.
Hotels and motels are primary locations for sex trafficking cases. Iowa’s Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery (NAHT) estimates at least 50 percent of sex trafficking takes place in hospitality venues, often without the knowledge of management and staff.
NAHT has partnered with Nebraska’s Coalition on Human Trafficking to launch the Iowa Hotel/Motel Training Project. Three trainers from Omaha came to Des Moines Sept. 13 for the first training session. The next training session will take place Sept. 25 in Cedar Rapids.
“Iowa is not immune from human trafficking,” Gov. Reynolds said. “That’s why I’m grateful to see this private sector partnership between our state and Nebraska. I know it will support the good work we’re already doing, from the strong laws we have on the books to the Office to Combat Human Trafficking we established within the Department of Public Safety to our law enforcement officers participating in training programs.”
“The governor and I support the efforts of nonprofit groups like NAHT to build public awareness,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “I would call on hotel and motel managers and owners for full cooperation and workers in the hospitality industry for participation in this training.”
“When the network started a decade ago, human trafficking wasn’t recognized as a problem in Iowa,” Dr. George Belitsos, NAHT board chair, said. “Thankfully, that’s changed. NAHT is grateful and encouraged by the support we’ve seen from Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Gregg.”
Gov. Reynolds currently serves as an honorary member of the NAHT board.