Two upscale Manhattan hotels that were the scenes of separate but similar high-profile sexual assaults in recent weeks have agreed to equip housekeepers with panic buttons that will allow them to quickly alert security if they feel threatened.
The Pierre and the Sofitel hotels decided to begin implementing the systems, which will be similar to those used by the elderly to alert a central security office, after meeting with hotel union officials, the Wall Street Journal reports.
A prominent Egyptian businessman, Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, was arrested Monday after being accused of sexually abusing a maid at The Pierre. That incident came roughly two weeks after former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on a number of charges including sexual assault and attempted rape of a maid at the Sofitel. Both men have steadfastly denied the charges against them.
While the details of both accusations differ greatly, both assaults allegedly occurred after the men locked the maids in their hotel rooms.
"Let everybody in the world traveling to New York know that when they stay in a hotel room, the person cleaning that room is armed with a button that they can immediately press if you're stupid enough to get inappropriate," Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, told the Journal.
The union has begun lobbying for state legislation that would make the panic buttons mandatory at all New York hotels. Regardless of whether that effort gains traction in the state legislature, Ward said that the group would ask that the panic buttons be included in next year’s union contract.