A piece of legislation, which passed the Lone Star State’s legislature Thursday, could become a source of reprieve for the survivors of sex trafficking. Under this Texas bill, sex trafficking survivors who have been accused of committing crimes "while under duress or coercion" from their abuser will have a better opportunity at receiving clemency, its official text reads.

If successfully enacted, the bill could give trafficking survivors a new lease on life. According to the bill’s official text, trafficking survivors will be able to submit a clemency application. Then, a group of licensed social workers, behavioral specialists, Department of State Health Services representatives, and other experts will look into the application and provide counsel to the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles.

Under the current system, only the board reviews clemency applications, which includes former law enforcement authorities. The Huffington Post noted that they may not be fully equipped to understand the nuance of such cases without proper training in sexual trauma, domestic violence, and sex trafficking.

One of the people who advocated for the introduction of this Texas bill, Elizabeth Henneke, laid out the power imbalance between a sex trafficking victim and the abuser, according to The Huffington Post. Henneke, who is the executive director of the Lone Star Justice Alliance in Texas, said, "When an individual has the power to sell your body in order to provide you with basic necessities, he is your trafficker." She added, "It doesn’t stop because in that moment he is not asking you to sell sex [but] asking you to rob someone."

More to come…

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