The alleged sexual assault of a New York City hotel maid by former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has raised concern about sexual assaults in hotels. For the hotel's housekeeping staff, cleaning a room might mean walking in on a potential sexual predator. Hotel guests might find themselves alone with an assaulter in a quiet hallway, staircase, or alcove.
Following the news of the Strauss-Kahn arrest, many hotels are taking a close look at their security and safety procedures. The alleged Strauss-Kahn assault is not an isolated case. In fact some hotel workers have come forward in the news with their own stories of unwanted sexual advances or assaults.
- A retired housekeeper who worked 30 years at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan recalled several occasions when she went into a room to clean, only to have a male guest emerge from the shower in his bathrobe which then suddenly opened.
- A worker with 17 years of experience in a luxury hotel told reporters how men would put money on the pillow asking for sexual favors and how one guest bugged her for days about having a threesome with his wife.
- Another housekeeper told of how she was cleaning a bathroom when a guest asked her to change the sheets. She arrived with sheets to find him lying naked on the bed, watching her and touching himself, she said.
Hotel security has improved greatly over the years with the introduction of electronic key cards, as well as having key-operated elevators, closed-circuit televisions in hallways and elevators, and instructing front desk employees to not say a guest's room number out loud. It is important for guests and staff to be alert and take precautions. Try to stay with at least one other person at all times and avoid dark and isolated areas. New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman recently proposed a bill requiring hotels in New York to give workers who regularly enter room a panic button that would notify hotel management of an emergency.
Goldstein and Bashner
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