Free tattoo removal for sex-trafficking survivors in NYC

Child and teen sex-trafficking survivors will be able to get a fresh start with help removing a physical stigma that symbolizes deep emotional wounds—the tattoos that their captors put on their bodies.

Administration for Children's Services Commissioner David Hansell said that nearly 3,000 children and young adult trafficking survivors, under ACS supervision, are being offered the free service to erase the ink forced on them as a sign of ownership.

"No young person should be forced to go through life with a permanent mark of exploitation and abuse on their body," Hansell said. "The NYC Child Tattoo Eradication Network will be a completely confidential program designed to limit the trauma inflicted on these children by abusers and gangs."

The initiative is based on the Fresh Start Tattoo Removal Program pioneered more than a decade ago by Dr. David Ores. On Monday, Ores demonstrated how an infrared laser can begin to remove a tattoo in a matter of seconds. But the process takes one visit every six weeks for a period of about a year.

He, Dr. Marie Leger, and a third doctor are volunteering their time and are looking for more medical staff to help. They are also seeking funding to buy a high-powered laser that erases all colors of ink, including the off-market ink used by traffickers on their victims.

"We are thankful to the committed medical professionals who have offered pro-bono services to help some of the most vulnerable children in New York City," Hansell said.