Promoting a hospitality industry free from human trafficking and prostitution – The effects on employees’ work environment

Mana Farshid, Assistant Professor and lecturer at KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)

What is the project about?
The fact that the sex trade is present in hotels can be regarded as a problem in the working environment for those employed by a hotel. They are placed in a difficult situation when they are exposed to sexual exploitation in various ways. Several hotels have undertaken initiatives to tackle this issue. We will investigate what sort of form these initiatives take and what effects they have on both the working environment and the employees. Are the employees’ views of the work place affected by it? Do they feel more secure? Does their commitment to an enterprise increase and are their efforts at work influenced by it? – These are just some of the questions we will be seeking answers to.

Why is the issue important for the hospitality sector?
Research shows that hotels are particularly exposed to sexual exploitation. Therefore, it is vital that the hospitality sector increases its awareness and expertise in order to run an active operation by fighting against it and ensuring that the working environment is safe for their employees. By taking corporate social responsibility can also help improve business leading to increased profitability and creating a stronger brand. The project answers to the United Nation’s 17 global aims and Agenda 2030 which aims at social, environmental and economic sustainable development and the need to work towards sustainable tourism.

What will you do?
We will be conducting interviews, both on an individual basis and in focus groups, with various categories of employees and management at hotels who are actively engaged in working against human trafficking and prostitution. We will also be using surveys. We are working with the non-profit organisation Real Stars whose aim is to strive towards a world free of human trafficking. They are already cooperating with several hotels, therefore we will beginning our investigation at some of these hotels.

What are the greatest challenges facing you?
Gathering data might be one of them. Firstly, it’s a question of finding the right people to interview. The subject matter on which we will be asking is sensitive so it will be a challenge for us to put our questions in the right way so that those being interviewed feel comfortable when answering.

What sort of benefit will the hospitality sector gain from your results?
Our aim is to be able to show the effects of various types of strategies, activities and work against prostitution and the sex trade. We hope to produce good examples of this. By extension, the aim is to reduce the presence of the sex trade in hotels.

BFUF has another research project running at the moment which deals with the same field. How will you cooperate?
We are approaching the issue from different directions. Our project is following a number of hotels who are operating a process of change and, consequently, have an employer’s perspective, while the researchers from Högskolan, Dalarna in their project ”No room for trafficking” – hotel employees’ strategies in addressing and working against prostitution and human trafficking – are studying the issue from an employee’s perspective. We have a great deal to learn from each other and we will be in contact during the project period. Furthermore, we have discussed collaboration in the form of scientific articles.

Mana Farshid, Assistant Professor and lecturer at KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm), och Charlotte Holgersson, Professor and lecturer at KTH.

Collaborative partners
The project will work in close collaboration with Real Stars and their projects: ”Hotell mot handel (Hotels against the sex trade)” och ”Business against Trafficking”. Malin Roux Johansson, CEO, and Åsa Helg, Process Director, will be participating. Amongst other things, Real Stars is working in cooperation with Scandic Klara, Nobis Hospitality Group, Nordic Choice Hotels and Hotel Kung Carl.

Project facts


Promoting a hospitality industry free from human trafficking and prostitution – The effects on employees’ work environment

Research organization

KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

Project Manager

Mana Farshid


Jan 2020 – Dec 2021


SEK 1,800,000

Läs om projektet på svenska »

Mana Farshid

Project Manager

Charlotte Holgersson