A new bill on the table at the Massachusetts State House would clear the names of sex trafficking victims, many of whom often face prostitution charges that follow them for the rest of their lives.
Jasmine Marino is an author, motivational speaker, and a survivor of sex trafficking.
"I was involved with prostitution, commercial sex trade, more trauma, more abuse," said Marino, who was forced into this world by a former boyfriend.
It’s her vulnerability, and willingness to share her story that’s helping other survivors reclaim their lives. But Marino says the women with prior convictions for prostitution, are having difficulty moving on.
"A lot of companies won’t hire them because of these charges," said Marino.
And to get rid of this on their records in Massachusetts, Alec Zadek said it’s complicated.
"It requires hundreds of hours and sophisticated lawyers going into court and arguing something that is uncertain," said Zadek, an attorney with Mintz Levin.
Levin helped write House Bill 766, an act to reduce sexual exploitation of victims of human trafficking, hoping it gives these survivors a clean slate. He’s working pro bono on this.
"And the goal for this law, is to help them remove this label because they are really a survivor of trafficking," said Levin.
Boston University Law Professor Julie Dahlstrom and some of her students are also trying to help.
"It may involve minors, it may involve people who are forced into it,' says Dahlstrom.
She’s partnering with Zadek’s law firm to get this bill passed.
"One of the things fueling this is the demand for commercial sex," said Dahlstrom.
The recent statistics from advocacy group demand abolition are sobering. There are more than 20,000 ads for paid sex posted on line every month. More than 9,000 searches for buying sex in Boston each day. And the average age of someone being trafficked is 14.
Marino is now married and expecting a fifth child. She’s also running a halfway house for sex trafficking survivors in Lynn.
"So this is just one little step in doing that," said Marino.
This bill was introduced in the house last year, but did not make it through. Advocates hope that changes this time around. There is a similar bill right now in the senate.