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New State Legislation Gives Human Trafficking Victims Independence through Education

The Samaritan Women Helps Open Doors to More School Choices

Contact: Ty Mays, 770-256-8710

BALTIMORE, Md., May 5, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- Victims of human trafficking will soon have the chance to attend any community college they want in Maryland with the help of a new law backed by a Baltimore-based victim recovery organization. 

The new legislation, unanimously passed by the state legislature last month and supported by The Samaritan Women (www.thesamaritanwomen.org), helps victims receive an education at any school without paying extra tuition fees. This measure gives victims the ability to choose the school that is best for their recovery.

"More often than not, legislation is being created to go after traffickers and support anti-trafficking, but without thinking about the victims themselves," said Jeanne Allert, founder of The Samaritan Women, a long-term residential recovery center for trafficking victims. "This legislation is unique, because it is restorative to victims. We hope this will encourage other states to look at how they can help victims as they go through their recovery."

In Maryland, a person has to pay a fee to go to a community college outside of their school district. Under the new law, these fees are waived for trafficking victims, leaving them free to choose from any school in the state without penalty.

Victims often suffer from illnesses, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can be triggered in larger-city settings. This meant that entering an urban setting where tuition was the lowest often triggered thoughts of anxiety, memories of prostitution and additional distress that interfered with recovery. For a victim to feel safe and attend a community college in a rural setting rather than a city college, tuition often doubled or tripled.

To victims of trafficking, the power of making a choice in their own lives is crucial to recovery, said Allert. Most did not have a choice in what they could wear or eat when enslaved. Now they can choose where they can go to school – an incredibly powerful tool for recovery and full independence.

"Getting an education and succeeding in school is crucial to a victim's self esteem. If she comes home with a good grade, that may be the first time in her life that she did something on her own with success," said Allert.

The bill was a collaboration between The Samaritan Women and Maryland Senator Simonaire and his daughter, freshman Delegate Megan Simonaire. It will go into effect July 1, pending the governor's signature. 

The Samaritan Women is working with legislators and community organizations to establish a system to have it effectively implemented in the state.

Additional information about The Samaritan Women is available at www.thesamaritanwomen.org.

The Samaritan Women's (www.thesamaritanwomen.org) mission is to glorify God by seeking justice, reconciliation and healing for women recovering from domestic human trafficking. The nonprofit has received accolades and awards from Health Care for the Homeless, Great Nonprofits, the American Society for Public Administration and more. It operates transitional and restorative shelter programs for women. Emphases include life-rebuilding, personal accomplishments, social re-entry and spiritual reconciliation. The organization also seeks to inspire, educate and equip people to engage in combatting domestic human trafficking through awareness, prevention, service and advocacy.

To schedule an interview with Jeanne Allert, contact Ty Mays @ 770-256-8710 or tmays@inchristcommunications.com.