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Thursday, June 17, 2010

WNYC - News - Albany Moves to Let Sex Trafficking Victims Clear Criminal Records

WNYC - News - Albany Moves to Let Sex Trafficking Victims Clear Criminal Records

On the heels of a report released by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledging that a modern "slave trade" exists in this country, New York legislators voted to approve a bill that would allow sex trafficking victims to vacate prostitution convictions from their record.

This legislation will allow women to remove any prostitution related offenses from their criminal record. Prostitution charges stay on a person's criminal record for life, and these charges present a major barrier to securing employment and applying for legal residency. This system keeps women dependent on their traffickers and abusers.

The legislation is reported to also allow any woman who is coerced into prostitution (even if she is not a victim of trafficking) the opportunity to vacate her convictions. What is yet to be seen is what proof the courts will require to ascertain if a woman was coerced.

This legislation has major implications for the women that Bronx Community Solutions serve through our alternatives to prostitution programs. Many women who are engaged in prostitution are also victims of sexual and domestic violence, and some are coerced into prostitution by intimate partners or other family members.

The bill is authored by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan and was passed by the Senate on Tuesday and the Assembly in May. The governor still has to sign the bill into law.

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