Road to Rights is a voter outreach program intended to help victims and survivors of sex trafficking who have lost their citizen rights as a result of being trafficked regain their rights and register to vote!
How Can Road to Rights Help?
Victims and survivors who have been convicted of prostitution and can show that their charges were a result of sex trafficking are eligible to petition the court for restoration of their rights. This program was created by the Arizona Secretary of State's office in order to help victims of sex trafficking get registered to vote and have their voices heard!
Road to Rights is free, as is the filing to vacate a felony. Anyone who was convicted of prostitution before July 24th, 2014, and can prove their charge was a result of sex trafficking, is eligible to apply.
What is sex trafficking?
Arizona Statute 13-1307 defines sex trafficking as intending to cause another “person to engage in any prostitution or sexually explicit performance by deception, force or coercion” or having knowledge that another person is engaging in these activities through force, fraud or coercion. The defintions for force, fraud, coercion and traffic, based on this statute are below
Abusing or threatening to abuse the law or the legal system.
Knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating, possessing or withholding another person's actual or purported passport or other immigration document, government issued identification document, government record or personal property.
Causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person.
Facilitating or controlling another person's access to a controlled substance.
"Force" includes causing or threatening to cause serious harm to another person or physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain another person.
"Sexually explicit performance" means a live or public act or show intended to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires or appeal to the prurient interest of patrons.
"Traffic" means to entice, recruit, harbor, provide, transport or otherwise obtain another person.
Any individual under 18 engaging in the sale of sex is a trafficking victim. Minors cannot consent to selling sex and adults who buy from minors are participating in their trafficking.
However, despite the definition, how victims understand trafficking is not as cut and dry as some would like to believe. The fact of the matter is many sex trafficked victims don't know that they have been trafficked, or that the abuse they are experiencing is illegal. Traffickers thrive on misinformation and work hard to convince their victims that they are to blame for their abuse. This is a primary reason victim's don't tell law enforcement or don't come forward to explore clearing their record; they have been convinced that they are at fault for the abuse they have experienced.
If you are or have been abused, it's important to know it's not your fault.
If you, or someone you know, has engaged in the sale of sex and any of these elements were part of that situation then you, or they, may qualify for relief as victims of human trafficking:
Someone used violence or the threat of violence against you, or someone you love, as a means of forcing you to sell sex.
Someone else profited partially or totally from the sale of sex (it's still trafficking if you turn your money over and someone gives you an allowance from that money or uses that money to pay for your room, food, clothing, etc. If you didn't get to keep it, it wasn't yours).
Someone is using pictures or video of you to blackmail you into selling sex.
Someone has taken your documentation or IDs, and will not let you have access.
Someone has forced you to use drugs as part of selling sex or has used your struggle with drug addiction as a means to convince you to sell sex in exchange for drugs.
Someone monitors where you are at all or most times, controls where you go, who you talk to and what you say.
Someone has promised love and protection for you in exchange for selling sex (if someone tells you that the only way you can stay together is if you help out with the bills and sell sex, it counts).
Someone is threatening to call the police and have you charged with a crime or is threatening to have you deported unless you sell sex.
If you fear that you will be harmed for leaving the situation.
The Impact of Sex Trafficking
Anyone selling sex under the age of 18, or anyone selling sex due to force, fraud or coercion are considered victims of sex trafficking based on Arizona law and federal law.
Unfortunately, Arizona experiences a high rate of sex trafficking within our borders. In 2017 there were 8,524 cases reported to the human trafficking hotline. Yet it is believed that we have uncovered less than 1% of the human trafficking cases within the US.
In Arizona, 1 in 3 homeless young adults (age 18-24) have been sex trafficked.
In Arizona the average age of entry into sex trafficking is 14.
Sex traffickers are often intimate partners of the victim, such as domestic partners, husbands and boyfriends or they may be family members.
Victims of sex trafficking are often children and young adults from the foster care system, homeless individuals (especially with those who are LGBTQ), individuals who are undocumented, those struggling with addiction and/ or mental health issues and those without strong networks of support. Sex traffickers seek out our most vulnerable Arizonans.
The Potential Impact of Road to Rights
Sex trafficking robs its victims of their basic human freedoms. Victims are isolated from mainstream society, shamed by a victimization that was outside their power to control, and affected by a multitude of traumas, maintaining a deep and affecting lifelong impact. Beyond the trauma of having been trafficking itself, sex trafficking is often confused with sex work. Victims then face arrest and are further weighted with prostitution convictions that additionally rob them of their freedoms, isolate them from mainstream society and shame them through the loss of their citizen rights.
The aim of Road to Rights is to re-establish the citizen rights of trafficking survivors, ensuring that their voices are heard in our communities and in our political decision-making processes. In our aim to combat sex trafficking, we cannot think of more important voices to have in our communities, at our voting booths and in our democratic processes. Sex trafficking prevails by keeping its victims in the shadows, where traffickers convince them that they are of no consequence to anyone. Road to Rights is direct outreach, hand-in-hand with the a variety of community partners from government agencies, to nonprofits to the criminal justice system and beyond to demonstrate to victims that their traffickers are wrong; we are eagerly waiting to see what power they hold with the restoration of their citizen rights.