NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Taxi and Limousine Commission has released an anti-sex trafficking video that is now mandatory viewing for all cabbies.
Commissioner David Yassky said the nine-minute video explains when driving women between pimps and johns amounts to sex trafficking and when it’s just picking up a passenger.
“Like with drunk driving, it’s really about raising awareness,” Yassky said. “If a driver is on the alert to make sure that they’re not being used by a sex trafficking ring then they know how to stay clear of that.”
The video, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, explains that it is illegal to refuse a fare based upon a person’s appearance or gender.
“On one hand we want to make sure the taxi drivers don’t become part of criminal activity, on the other hand it’s not their job to be doing profiling of any kind and you don’t want them discriminating against people without good reason,” Yassky said.
The training video was created after the City Council approved a bill strengthening penalties against cabbies who knowingly work with sex traffickers.
“Sex trafficking is a serious crime,” Yassky said. “Every taxi driver, every livery driver has got to be trained to make sure that they are not participating in sex trafficking.”
The bill, which targets drivers who assist sex traffickers by driving women to johns, imposes a $10,000 fine on drivers who are convicted of a felony related to sex trafficking. The cabbies would also lose their TLC licenses.
Some opponents of the bill had said they were worried it could make cabbies afraid to pick up passengers who are provocatively dressed.
The video is designed to clarify the rules.
All drivers are required to watch the video when getting or renewing a license.
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