A scourge which is being faced on Long Island as well as many parts of the country was discussed recently at a Temple Judea symposium which was hosted by Women of Reform Judaism Sisterhood.
Chairwoman Phyllis Wininger introduced guest speakers Sue Lingenfelter, Executive Board member of L.I. Against Trafficking, and Lisa Levine, Hadassah Nassau Region Advocacy Coordinator. They described the methods traffickers use to recruit and deceive young people with promises of emotional and materials resources.
The program was attended by more than 50 people who were shocked to hear stories of the victims of human trafficking some of whom are young women as well as very young children. The victims are generally treated with affection and promises of emotional and material resources.
As one trafficker explained during an L.I. Against Trafficking study, “You make a dream and get them to believe you, and then it’s completely different from what you told them.” The victims are literally enslaved and required to do the bidding of their “pimps” and find it difficult if not impossible to escape.
It is hard to believe that 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Steps are being taken. New York State is creating a statewide system of specialized criminal courts to handle prostitution cases and provide services to help wrest human- and sex-trafficking victims from the cycle of exploitation and arrest, the state’s Chief Judge, Jonathan Lippman announced. The initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
“Human trafficking is a crime that inflicts terrible harm on the most vulnerable members of society: victims of abuse, the poor, children, runaways, immigrants,” Lippman said. “It is in every sense a form of modern-day slavery. We cannot tolerate this practice in a civilized society, nor can we afford to let victims of trafficking slip between the cracks of our justice system.”
After the program by the moderators, Sisterhood Programming and Education Coordinators, Kathi Kafka and Lauren Chizner opened the floor to questions.