New Bill Would Allow Human Trafficking Victims To Clear Prostitution Convictions

Tuesday, February 19th 2013, 11:21 pm
By: News 9

Women who have been forced into human trafficking carry a label that can scar their lives forever, but maybe not for long.

Legislation making its way through the capitol would allow victims to petition to have prostitution convictions cleared from their records.

Many women and men say they were turned into victims because of force or fraud, and one lawmaker says they shouldn't be treated like criminals.

"They said, you can either sell drugs, or you can be a prostitute, and selling drugs was not the option, because I would end up getting them caught," said victim, Kiera Samantha.

Either way, Samantha said she didn't have a choice. She was suddenly trapped in a life of misery, often beaten, and forced to work as a prostitute.

"I still have nightmares, I still often times have to medicate to sleep, I have huge anxiety," Samantha said.

Twenty two years ago after running away from home at age 14, she found herself trapped in the world of human trafficking.

"I did not got to police right away," Samantha said.

Often times, human trafficking victims are terrified to tell police they're being forced to sell their bodies for sex.

"If a young woman has on their record a felony charge of prostitution, that is going to hurt them the rest of their life, and they're already dealing with enough problems and scars," Republican Rep. Sally Kern said.

Rep. Kern wants to erase that record, and give victims a fresh start.

Samantha says she wants to be part of the solution. She's been tight lipped about her experience, only until about three years ago.

"It's not just you forgiving yourself for choices that you've made to survive, because you do feel guilty about those," said Samantha. "But it's also giving them a fresh start, and a new understanding."

The bill has already passed the House of Representatives with zero opposition. Rep. Kern expects the bill to pass through the Senate, and be signed by the governor.