NOLA community must unite to combat human trafficking on Bourbon Street

The New Orleans Police Department recently conducted a series of raids of Bourbon Street strip clubs as part of its campaign to combat human trafficking. Despite the good intentions behind them, these operations will not be enough to stop human trafficking, a local problem that threatens the well-being of the community as a whole.

The NOPD announced that it had found evidence of prostitution at seven of the eight strip clubs it had raided on Jan. 29. The raids, which were conducted in collaboration with the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, also found evidence of illegal drug sales and lewd acts. As a result, these clubs lost their liquor licenses and were put on an emergency suspension.

After agreeing upon consent orders with the ATC, the clubs became operational again but with new security requirements. Employees must participate in twice-yearly training sessions to help them recognize signs of human trafficking, and they must also understand “rules of conduct” regarding lewd behaviors and narcotic activities. There will also be a zero-tolerance policy for employees, requiring businesses to fire anyone involved in prostitution or drug sales.

Outside the requirements for employees, businesses must install security cameras to monitor all areas of the club, including VIP rooms. The ATC also requires that they hire third-party companies to conduct “shopper programs” in which undercover workers check for illegal activity within clubs.

While these measures will undoubtedly help in the fight against illicit drug sales and human trafficking, the task force has failed to take all angles of this issue into account. For instance, it has not considered how the raids affect those who work at strip clubs, especially dancers, who lost income due to the emergency suspension. They argue that the raids only hurt business without producing results as the ATC officials announced that there were no human trafficking-related arrests in their raids.

If law enforcement wants to be successful in its mission to combat human trafficking, it must get the support of strip clubs and other businesses in the French Quarter in which illegal activities may occur. Strip clubs are the most common fronts for human trafficking in New Orleans, so it is vital that owners and managers be committed to keeping clients and workers safe.

Nonetheless, human trafficking is not limited to the strip clubs of Bourbon Street. There have been cases elsewhere in the French Quarter as well as other parts of the city. The raids on Bourbon Street are an important step in bringing this issue to the public’s attention, but law enforcement must diversify its strategies and expand the scope of its operations to truly help those being victimized by human trafficking.

This effort must also involve the support of the New Orleans community. More businesses should train their employees regarding the issue. Residents must also make themselves aware of what human trafficking is and how to detect it. Tourists, locals and Tulane students should be cognizant when in the French Quarter, looking for signs of possible illicit activity that needs to be reported to authorities. Human trafficking is a complicated and endemic issue that can only be tackled with the help of the entire community.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Madeline is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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