- Jalene Lugo, 14, said she regularly walks past sex workers on her way to school
- Elmhurst residents likened the area to a Bangkok ‘red-light district’
- Businesses complain they are losing money as customers are put off visiting
New York school children have complained they are being forced to walk past ‘Venezuelan prostitutes’ in broad daylight, with their neighborhood likened to a Bangkok ‘red-light district’.
High schoolers told how they encounter sex workers ‘virtually on every block’ of the route along the Jackson Heights-Corona border.
Jalene Lugo, 14, said she passed several provocatively dressed women in a doorway on 93rd Street earlier this week and not for the first time.
‘During school hours, they’re out,’ the high school freshman told PIX 11 News. ‘They will be out with their pimps and they don’t care.’
Other residents described the scene as like a ‘red-light district, similar to Bangkok’.
Sex workers have been seen walking the streets during the day, with many aggressively soliciting even as children get out of school or during their lunch hour
The mayor said the city has identified two locations of concern – one in East New York and the other on Roosevelt Avenue (pictured above)
Jalene’s mom Massiel Lugo, a local activist who has previously held rallies about the issue, is calling for more to be done to keep the area safe for youngsters
Elmhurst resident Ramsay Frias told the outlet: ‘It’s scary that there’s no moral compass anymore. Growing up, it’s never been perfect, but right now, it’s lawless.’
Jalene’s mom Massiel Lugo, a local activist who has previously held rallies about the issue, is calling for more to be done to keep the area safe for youngsters.
Lugo said: ‘We understand that these women need money, but they shouldn’t be doing this during school. We are seeing more Latina women doing prostitution.’
She has set up a petition to ‘reclaim’ the community, which has so far amassed more than 1,600 signatures.
Meanwhile, businesses have warned the activity is causing them to lose money. One cellphone store owner revealed customers don’t want to come in anymore due to the presence of sex workers outside.
But state assembly member Cataline Cruz, who researched sex trafficking prior to her election in the Queens district, opposes the criminalization of prostitution.
‘Whatever way we choose to enforce the law, remember they are humans,’ Cruz said. ‘They deserve dignity. They deserve protection.’
She said she would support decriminalization if the correct support was in place.
However, Mayor Eric Adams has remained firm in his opposition to decriminalizing prostitution. He said the massive increase in solicitation is linked to the migrant crisis.
New York City ‘s red light district is being fueled by the migrant crisis, mayor Eric Adams said
‘There are real issues around illegal sex work,’ he said. ‘Not only from STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) — sex trafficking, young girls getting involved in it.’
He confirmed that the police had stated many of the sex workers were Venezuelan.
He added: ‘This is what happens when you create an atmosphere where people can’t provide for themselves.’
He also blasted ‘elected officials who are fighting against us, trying to legalize sex work.’
Elmhurst residents have previously described how brothels in the area are ‘an open secret’.
In June a Woodside establishment was shut down following an undercover sting operation by cops. Two women in their 60s were arrested for prostitution.
Neighbors had been calling for its closure for a while, and said there were other brothels operating in the area, the Jackson Heights Post reports.