By Naeisha Rose
York College will hold an Awareness and Prevention of Human Trafficking forum on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the school’s Bassin Theatre.
Barbara Felton, the co-chair for the Partnership for the Eradication of Human Trafficking, will be moderating the event at York, located at 94-30 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
The guest speakers for the event are human trafficking survivor Sheila White and lawyer Susan Jacob, who is the executive director of the Queens Family Justice Center.
Panelists include Dr. Maria Almario of the Partnership for the Eradication of Human Trafficking; Lisa Hofflich, a legislative adviser for the state Assembly; Kevin Tillman of U.S. Homeland Security; and Dr. Leroy Gadsen, the president of the Jamaica Branch of the NAACP.
According to the NYPD, rescues for sex trafficking victims are on the rise throughout the city. In 2016, there were 41 sex-trafficked individuals rescued, a number that went up to 56 in 2017.
Prostitution arrests citywide have fallen, from 1,427 cases in 2016 to 679 cases in 2017, but arrests for promotion of prostitution rose from 191 to 228 in that same time frame. There were 192 arrests for patronizing prostitution in 2016, which rose to 565 arrests in 2017.
“Prostitution arrests from Vice have dropped over 40 percent,” said Susan Herman, the deputy commissioner of Collaborative Policing, at a police summit in South Jamaica earlier this year. “The emphasis has changed to stopping people who are manipulating people into trafficking or coercing people into prostitution rather than the person who is engaging.”
According to Herman, the NYPD and participating houses of worship, like New Jerusalem Worship Center in South Jamaica where the police summit was held, are working together to house human trafficking victims who have been coerced into prostitution by giving them a safe place to stay, counseling and job placement.
“We are not there to arrest those who have engaged in sex work,” said Herman. “We are there to help them.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose