Two bills designed to help sex trafficking survivors awaiting Gov. Northam’s signature

‘The door to healing has been opened for human trafficking survivors in Virginia’

This Monday, March 15, 2021, file photo shows Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (Steve Helber, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Two sex trafficking survivor advocacy groups are looking for Gov. Ralph Northam to sign two recently passed bills, designed to help survivors have better lives, into law.

Freedom 4/24 and the Virginia Coalition Against Human Trafficking (VCAHT) report that both House Bill 2133 and House Bill 2234 received unanimous passage in Virginia’s General Assembly.

House Bill 2133 allows survivors to have convictions related to their trafficking removed from their records which could better their access to employment, education and other resources.

House Bill 2234 makes it easier for survivors during court proceedings, by being able to present a defense that their trafficker forced them to commit crimes.

According to VCHAT President Patrick McKenna, the bills are limited to two charges, prostitution and keeping, residing in, or frequenting a bawdy place.

“Freedom 4/24 is passionate about advocating for human trafficking survivors ...individuals who have been victimized by the crime of human trafficking. Education is necessary— our community needs to understand that these victims are not criminals...rather, force, fraud, coercion and/or deception was used against them for purposes of exploitation,” said President of Freedom 4/24 Joy Cover. “They do not deserve a sentence and a record; they deserve legislation that supports their healing and recovery. We are proud of our affiliation with VCAHT and what the coalition as been able to accomplish this year because the door to healing has been opened for human trafficking survivors in Virginia.”

Both bills are awaiting a signature by Gov. Ralph Northam.

About the Author:

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.