What happens when you are convicted of crimes due to being forced to work as a prostitute and want a fresh start? Are there any opportunities for you to change your life around?
This was the case for a 57 year old woman from Queens who was forced by an ex boyfriend to become a prostitution and has been denied for many jobs including airplane cabins, cleaning offices overnight and working in concession stands. These are only some of the low wage jobs which she has been rejected because of the extensive criminal record she has. She does not deny the 133 times that she has been convicted.
However, having this criminal record should not punish her to a life struggle because these crimes were the result of being forced by an abusive ex boyfriend for 17 years to work as a prostitute.
It is not as if these crimes were committed consciously, her ex boyfriend had her influenced to a point where she feared her safety. If she would not cooperate with what he would tell her to do there would be consequences. She was not able to discuss the abuse she was obtaining, having a constant black eye and never having the ability to escape because he would find her and always bring her back into that world. A life of violence.
Even though she was able to escape from her captor in 1990, her criminal record still followed her making it difficult for her to find job opportunities. However, thanks to a New York State law that serves the purpose to assist those that have been forced to become prostitutes to be considered as victims and have all her convictions erased, rather than as a criminal.
This law was first presented in 2010 which grants convictions that are associated with sexual trafficking to be eliminated from an individual’s record. The first state in the country to have this state law was New York, now there are 18 other states that have embraced similar measures.
If the arrest is associated to trafficking, the court must drop the charges. It should be recognized that the they should’ve not been convicted in the first place. In New York there has been over 60 women with prosecution convictions that had their records cleared.
Even though the treatment of prostitution has emerged substantially throughout the years, there are still many individuals in which contain convictions from a time where they were not viewed as victims but as a felon.