Hotels Give Maids ‘Panic Buttons’ to Fight Sex Abuse

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John Boswell, a millionaire in Washington, D.C., to toast President Trump’s inauguration, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual abuse for rubbing a hotel maid’s buttocks.  “This is very nice stuff,” he said. “I like that!” Such incidents are common in an industry where about half of employees say they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by a guest, union surveys have shown, the Washington Post reports. Many go unreported because the housekeepers, often immigrants or women of color, fear losing their jobs. In 2011, the plight of hotel housekeepers became international news when Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then  head of the International Monetary Fund, was accused of sexually assaulting a maid at a New York luxury hotel. Criminal charges were dropped, but the incident prompted hotels to provide maids with panic buttons.

Six years later, the devices only now are reaching many other parts of the nation. When pressed, the panic buttons send a maid’s location to hotel security. Hotels pay for the devices and monitoring systems, which generally cost up to $50,000. In November, voters in Seattle approved a measure providing hotel workers with panic buttons and other protections. Chicago’s city council is considering a measure that would require panic buttons. Vanessa Sinders of the American Hotel & Lodging Association said the industry is committed to using technology to keep its employees safe.

 

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