Local nonprofit leaders are mobilizing to encourage legislators to pass an amendment that would give victims of sex trafficking — such as forced prostitution — the opportunity to erase their criminal records and give them access to state resources.
The New England Trafficking Aftercare Coalition (NETAC), comprising small nonprofits from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, formed earlier this year to combine resources and share information. Its mission is similar to that of the Boston-based Massachusetts Coalition to End Human Trafficking, an alliance of nonprofit leaders, private citizens and faith-based organizations that joined forces last year.
What authorities once viewed as prostitution is now being viewed as something more complex, with prostitutes being seen more often as victims in need of rescuing from pimps who law enforcement officials say are enslaving them for profit. For this reason, “human trafficking” is becoming the more-common term, with a sex-trafficking victim defined as anyone who engages in a commercial sex act, such as prostitution, as the result of force, fraud or coercion.