Sexual assault in hospitality industry: How often does it happen?

When someone mentions sexual violence and misconduct, we frequently hear about people in the mainstream industries like La La Land. And that’s okay to some degree. There are numerous proven cases of abuse, especially towards women, in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. But they aren’t the only ones, unfortunately. Other industries are full of sexual predators and ill-fated victims. One such industry is hospitality.


People who work in restaurants, hotels, and cafés are frequent victims of unwanted sexual contact. From hotel housekeepers to lonely and unprotected workers in fast food shops, they come across all sorts of folks. Actually, sometimes it may seem like drunk and power-abusive individuals are more common than your average, sane customer. So, we think it’s only fair to discuss how common sexual assault is in this field of work.

Why Hospitality Workers Are Common Victims

We need to first mention that it’s not just employees who are targets of sexual assault in the hospitality industry. In reality, hotel guests are regularly on the receiving end of such misconduct. That is down to the ease of access to their rooms by hotel employees and mischievous individuals who obtain their keys or cards. All this is behind the 2020 initiative in New Jersey that suggests mandatory panic buttons in hotel and motel rooms.


Nevertheless, the reasons attempted or completed rape happens in the hospitality industry are various. You can’t single them out. But isn’t it weird to explain why someone would do such a heinous act? That would somewhat humanize such acts and provide an alibi for rapists and other wrongdoers. It would, however, still provide us with enough information to prevent such acts from happening again.

The main reason forbidden types of sexual contact happen in hotels is that such places provide cover for predators. Inside their room, they can do pretty much anything they want to a physically less powerful housekeeper. On the other hand, in food and beverage customer service places like fast-food restaurants, workers are often alone during the night shift. And statistically, well, that’s when most of these crimes occur.

Who Is More Likely to Be Assaulted Sexually?

It would be an over-exaggeration to say both men and women have it bad when it comes to sexual assault. Sure, it’s hideous when it happens, regardless of someone’s chromosomes. But various stats suggest sexual violence against women is more common. And if you think about it, it’s no wonder. Most men are physically stronger than their female counterparts. As such, they can easily overpower women and take advantage of their bodies.


When it comes to the hospitality industry, stats also tell us that women are more often housekeepers in hotels and workers in fast-food vendors. That means that due to the nature of their job and surroundings, they are more likely to end up assaulted. But how frequently do these cases happen? Well, nearly one-third of all hospitality workers went through some sort of abuse in their hospitality careers. When we take a look at how often sexual assault happens, we’ll see that of all women working these kinds of jobs, 60% have been victims at some point.

Resolving Problems and Taking Actions

Since hotel rooms are common places where sexual assault happens, the hospitality industry is looking for ways to stop it. Namely, like all other employers, hotel owners are trying to maximize the security of their workers. The main idea is to introduce panic buttons in each room. These buttons will provide housekeepers or anyone else inside a room to quickly contact the desk and alarm them that something is happening.


However, this isn’t the only way to deal with such an issue. Although stopping new misconduct from happening is essential, so is helping those who went through it cope. The idea is to introduce more support groups and to encourage its employees to visit them. On the other hand, services in this industry are looking to train workers. By doing that, they aim to help them avoid dangerous situations where they can potentially end up being victimized.

Who Were the Perpetrators?

To paint one group of people as common perpetrators of rape wouldn’t be serious. In fact, it would be seriously wrong. However, we can still follow stats and numbers that allow us some insight into who the most common wrongdoers are when it comes to sexual assault. 


Namely, male rapists seriously outnumber their female counterparts. That is of no surprise, given how it’s way easier for men to pressure women physically into sex than vice versa. The statistics, however, don’t mean that women working in the hospitality industry should avoid men at all costs. If that were the case, well, the whole business would crumble.


Yet, can they still manage to protect themselves, even without security? Well, it’s not that easy. They can, for instance, when going to rooms alone, inform others, and go together if it’s possible. In most other cases, well, they rely on security measures at their respectful workplace. Cameras, other personnel, and panic buttons, if present.

The Right Thing to Do

In our eyes, the right thing to do for any owner whose business belongs in the hospitality industry is to first secure their employees. That, of course, goes out for any other industry, be it fashion or entertainment. Not only does it mean better business and more money — which is something most care about — but it’s also the moral thing to do.


So, what do we propose? Well, there are no easy answers. If there were, our society would have worked them out a long time ago. As such, most of us are left to our own devices. That means that everything depends on the type of business. When it comes to hotels, motels, and other bed and breakfast options, we are fully behind the idea of panic buttons.


Other security measures that business owners can think about include security systems with cameras covering all areas. Of course, you can’t film inside rooms. In those cases, when housekeepers go inside, they should always be in pairs. That way, it will be hard for potential predators to overpower them. Additionally, there should always be an instant line with law enforcement that workers can use in case of any danger, sexual included.