The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Applauds New York State Governor for Signing START Act (Survivors of Trafficking Attaining Relief Together)
This groundbreaking law will ensure protections for victims of sex trafficking, labor trafficking, compelling prostitution, convicted of various offenses as a result of being trafficked.
New York, November 18, 2021 – The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), an international organization based in New York, applauds New York Governor Kathy Hochul for enacting, on November 16, the START Act that will allow survivors of human trafficking to seek relief for convictions of offenses they committed while being trafficked. This critical legislation will offer survivors a fresh start to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.
“So many survivors with whom we work still cannot find housing, employment, serve on school boards, or even travel because they were unfairly convicted of crimes, including prostitution-related offenses, during their exploitation,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of CATW. “With the enactment of the START Act, New York moves a step further toward recognizing that trafficked and exploited individuals deserve protection and assistance, not punishment.”
CATW will continue to call on New York legislators to enact progressive legislation that solely decriminalizes prostituted individuals, who are overwhelmingly women of color, and offering them access to comprehensive services, while penalizing those who harm them, including sex buyers, pimps, and traffickers. New York must continue leading by strengthening its laws that prevent sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, especially of women and girls, as forms of gender-based violence, sexual violence, discrimination, and inequality.