New York City is believed to play a significant role in international sex trafficking as an entry point for smugglers and place where trafficking victims are put to work as prostitutes. Yet there are few arrests, says the Wall Street Journal. An organization called Restore NYC is set to open the first safe house in the city dedicated to women who have escaped the global sex trade. These victims are undocumented immigrants, often lured to the U.S. with the promise of jobs and then coerced into prostitution. The safehouse, in Queens, will open Nov. 1.
Restore NYC's Faith Huckel says that her group alone has worked with 100 victims since 2009. The number of sex traffickers arrested for the crime remains far smaller, and prosecutions are rare and slow. The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has recorded 29 arrests for sex trafficking between January 2008 and September 2010; during that span there have been eight people sentenced for sex trafficking in the state. “This is a problem that happens in the shadows and it happens in the shadows for a reason,” said John Feinblatt, the criminal justice coordinator tapped by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to lead the city's anti-trafficking task force. “Because that's where people want it.” The Global Report on Trafficking in Persons from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime last year counts just 172 people convicted for sex trafficking in the U.S. between 2005 and 2007.