Under a new law, people in Illinois who have been victims of sex trafficking will have prostitution convictions voided.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the legislation, says trafficking victims "deserve a chance to clear their records and rebuild their lives."

Trafficking victims are typically women and girls forced into the sex trade against their will.

The bill allows prostitution defendants who are the victims of trafficking to file a motion to have their convictions vacated. The measure also creates a filing timeline for victims, who officials say may endure years of abuse before seeking help.

Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) sponsored the bill, which was supported by organizations including the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Rape Victim Advocates and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

The bill takes effect Jan. 1.

In July, Georgia announced a law to make penalties tougher for people who smuggle in foreign nationals to use them for prostitution. 

The law also sought more leniency for victims forced into the criminal act. It bars prosecutors from charging people with sex crimes if the offense occurred while the person was a victim of trafficking. 

This is based on a story by The Associated Press.

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