Campaign Against Human Trafficking In Queens

Jose Peralta

August 03, 2012

As reported by the New York Daily News:

A Queens official is spearheading a campaign to raise awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims in an attempt to curb the problem in western Queens.

The office of state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) has been distributing hundreds of posters in English and Spanish to small businesses in Corona, Jackson Heights and parts of Elmhurst. The posters encourage victims of human trafficking and prostitution to call 311 for help.

“So many women from around the world and the country are brought here to New York, and particularly on Roosevelt Avenue, to be enslaved and forced to have sex with strangers,” Peralta said.

“We have to dispel the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime and the way to do that is by providing information and raising awareness,” he said.

Jimmy Lee, executive director of Restore NYC, an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking in New York City, said awareness is “critical.”

His group is partnering with Peralta, the city and various businesses on the campaign.

“If people are aware of the red flags, then there is a national trafficking hotline and there is local law enforcement” for people to reach out to, said Lee, who hopes everyday citizens will get involved.

The posters could also discourage prospective johns, he said.

He estimated that there are about 15,000 victims trafficked into the U.S. annually, based on federal data.

Felix Suero, president of the Dominicana Radio Dispatcher, a car service based in Corona, said he put up the posters because of the horror stories he heard from passengers when he was a livery driver.

Victims “are brought to this country for a different reason than they were promised,” Suero said. “The campaign will let women know where to go for help.”

Jackie Williams, owner of The Outer Zone, a computer repair shop in East Elmhurst, said many residents and workers in the area aren’t even aware of the trafficking problem.

“There are a lot of people in this neighborhood who are here illegally so they think that they have no rights,” he said. “I’m just hoping [the posters] will help somebody who needs guidance.”

Peralta said the campaign lets victims know that they are not alone and help is available.

“These posters can be their lifeline,” Peralta said.

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