Councilman Peter Koo and the NYPD announced an upcoming human trafficking seminar in Flushing that aims to help explain services available to victims and educate the community about the issue.
The Human Trafficking Seminar will take place at Flushing Library from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 29.
The seminar comes in the wake of recent news in which a massage parlor raid in Florida resulted in the arrest of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Reports indicated that several women working at the massage parlor in Florida had addresses from Flushing, according to Koo.
Moreover, the Downtown Flushing area has also had its own prostitution problems. Koo partnered with police and community businesses on March 11 to identify and shut down several brothels posing as massage parlors on 40th Road across the street from Bland Playground.
Once affectionately referred to as “Restaurant Row,” in recent years, the block in the heart of downtown Flushing has turned into a red light district where dozens of girls aggressively solicit sex from people walking down the street 24/7, often venturing into the playground.
“We are seeing this happen sporadically nationwide. Massage parlors are raided by law enforcement, and it later becomes clear that they can be traced back to Flushing,” said Koo. “Sex trafficking needs to be addressed with tremendous sensitivity so victims can be sure they are safe. We also welcome the eyes and ears of the community. If you see something, say something. This seminar will help explain services available to victims and educate our community about what to look out for.”
Koo has been working with local women’s shelters to provide outreach services to potential victims. While there was no immediate indication of trafficking at the 40th Road locations, Koo has worked with landlords and the city to shutter the locations acting as illicit massage parlors.
The upcoming sex trafficking seminar aims to engage potential victims in Flushing and around New York City, as well as community members who wish to know more about the issue.
Garden Hope, which serves to rebuild the lives of those who have been exposed to domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, is partnering with the city on the seminar.
“We work to assist Chinese-speaking victims of domestic and gender-based violence through assessment, court-mandated education and legal assistance for trafficking victims,” said Yuanfen Kristen Chi, executive director of Garden Hope.
The center offers free and confidential services to human trafficking victims/survivors that include consultation, case management, counseling, support group, emergency housing, legal assistance, court interpretation, medical checking and economic empowerment.
Anyone who needs assistance can call Garden of Hope’s free helpline number at 718-321-8862.
The trafficking seminar is being held in partnership with the NYPD; the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence; the Queens Family Justice Center; Garden of Hope; Chinese Christian Herald Crusades; the Korean American Family Service Center; and Samaritans NYC.