In recent weeks, former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted a housekeeper at the Sofitel Hotel and an Egyptian banker assaulted a maid at the Pierre Hotel. Meanwhile, a Hilton Hotel maid says a naked tourist chased her screaming “I need sex! I need sex!”
Now, hotel management and the maids themselves are making changes to prevent this kind of incident from happening again.
At the Sofitel Hotel, maids have demanded that they be allowed to wear trousers instead of skirts. The Sofitel management conceded to their request and says it is now in the process of reviewing all its other safety policies. Maids at the Pierre hotel in New York are taking self-defense classes from a second degree black belt instructor, who has taught them how to stomp on an assailant’s foot or strike with a flat hand. Some New York maids have asked that they not be required to clean rooms while they’re occupied.
And New York assemblyman Rory Lancman (D) has even proposed a bill that would arm hotel maids with panic buttons.
Linda Valle, an attendant at the Hilton, told the Guardian that sometimes the problem is that guests ignore warning knocks and don’t put out the Do Not Disturb sign.
“Sometimes they close the shades, you walk in and they are sitting there naked waiting for you,” said Valle, who has worked as a maid for18 years. “They have no shame.”
Strauss-Kahn was charged with sexual assault and attempted rape on May 14, 2011. French Finance Minister Christine LeGarde was named the new head of the IMF on Tuesday.
Egyptian banker Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar pleaded guilty to sex abuse last week, paying $250 in fines. He was told to perform five days of community service and to stay out of trouble for a year.