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SEX TRAFFICKING

 

THE PROBLEM

SEXUAL SLAVERY AND EXPLOITATION

 
 
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Today, there are an estimated 57,000 people living in slavery in the United States. New York City serves as a gateway and is one of the largest destinations for trafficked women entering the country.

In every borough of New York City, women are being exploited for sex.

 
 
 
 
 
 

What is human trafficking?

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines trafficking as the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

 
 
 Force, Fraud, Coercion
 
 
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Traffickers often recruit women through deceptive job ads or false promises, exploiting vulnerabilities such as immigration status, debt, education, language, or children.

 
 

The survivors of trafficking we serve at Restore are often motivated mothers, desperate to provide for themselves and their children. We are committed to walking alongside women with holistic support, including trafficking assessment, counseling, legal assistance, safe housing, and job placement.

 

 

Where does trafficking happen?

Polaris has identified 25 industries of slavery that exist today. At Restore, these are the six most common types of trafficking that survivors report.

 
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ILLICIT MASSAGE

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ESCORT SERVICES

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HOTEL & HOSPITALITY

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PERSONAL SEXUAL SERVITUDE

(FORCED MARRIAGE)

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RESIDENTIAL

(BROTHEL)

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BARS, STRIP CLUBS, & CANTINAS

 
 
 There are 4x as many illicit massage parlors as there are Starbucks in NYC
 

The majority of referrals to Restore are for women exploited in illicit massage businesses. For every Starbucks in New York City, there are 4x more illicit massage businesses. Illicit massage businesses are known venues for trafficking women for sex across the country, whether in small, rural areas or the biggest city in America — New York.

These are massage parlors that pose as legitimate businesses and exploit women for sex for profit. They are in every borough of New York, in most neighborhoods, and we walk by them everyday.

 
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"WHY DON'T WOMEN JUST LEAVE?"

The most common misconception of trafficked women is that they have a lot of choice.

Even though they may have freedom to walk outside the business, many times we see that they do not have choice in where or how they live, or even what they eat.

Coercion can look subtle as traffickers use threats and manipulation to keep a woman fearful and trapped.

 
 

“The trafficking survivors from illicit massage businesses (IMBs) that I have worked with are often exploited in a … subtle way … The women can have multiple vulnerabilities, such as debt, unstable immigration status, language barriers, lack of knowledge of laws in the United States, low education, shame, and so on. These vulnerabilities compound and form a trap closely surrounding the women working in massage parlors.”* 

— BEISI HUANG, LMSW, RESTORE COUNSELOR 

*Quoted on page 27 of Polaris' Human Trafficking in Illicit Massage Businesses report

 
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 Image of Jin*

"I typically don't get off work at the massage parlor until 11pm. Many times I am just starving. I didn't know what to eat and sometimes the other worker leaves me some food like grapes or an egg. I didn't have money to buy any food so I collected bottles of recyclables to sell. I can make $10 per bag but my boss didn't want me to put the big trash bags near the parlor, so he yelled at me."

— JIN*, SURVIVOR OF SEX TRAFFICKING

*Name has been changed to protect client's identity. The woman in the photograph is not known to have been exploited.