Yesterday on July 23rd, 2015, we held an event titled “Sex & Labor Trafficking in NYC: Modern Slavery Hidden in Plain Sight” to raise awareness of the fact that Queens is a hub for human trafficking. The event included a panel discussion with leaders Jimmy Lee, Executive Director of Restore NYC, Mary Caparas, Project Free Manager at the NY Asian Women’s Center, and Rita Abadi, Clinician and Operations Manager at the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program.
The panel highlighted how human trafficking is not the typical “kidnapped and chained” scenario that we’ve come to associate with “slavery.” Many survivors of trafficking are either coerced and/or tricked with empty promises; this includes women and men who are prostituted as well as those who are forced into labor. While many victims feel that they have no options, there are a number of community-based organizations in NYC that have been founded specifically to solve this problem.
After the panel, facilitators from the NY Asian Women’s Center conducted workshops in English, Chinese, and Korean. The purpose of this portion was to reach immigrants in the community with limited English proficiency.