Our Approach

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Demand Abolition is committed to eradicating the illegal commercial sex industry in the US—and, by extension, the world—by combating the demand for purchased sex. We are catalyzing social change to reflect the dignity of all people, insisting that an inherent human right is that no person can be bought or sold. Human trafficking/prostitution continues to flourish, degrading those being prostituted (usually women and children) as well as the men who are buying them.

Recognizing that it takes sustained efforts and significant collaboration to establish lasting change, we’re spearheading a multi-year, multi-stakeholder national strategy. Working closely with an active network of criminal justice professionals, survivors, practitioners, researchers, policymakers, corporate leaders, philanthropists, and media representatives we’re aiming to serve as the nexus of information on policies and practices. The program is identifying and advocating for demand-reduction interventions that are respectful, pragmatic, sustainable, and effective.

How We Work

Demand Abolition seeks to abolish the illegal commercial sex industry in the United States by eradicating the demand for purchased sex. Focusing initially on criminal justice system efforts, we are:

    • Driving the development and dissemination of a compelling, evidence-based case for eliminating demand while encouraging additional research and evaluation in the field;

Success: We partnered with Prostitution Research and Education on an unprecedented study examining the attitudes and behaviors of men toward prostitution. The report, Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex, breaks new ground by directly comparing these two groups, bringing to light significant findings including what would deter men from purchasing sex.

    • Convincing criminal justice professionals and policymakers of the strategic importance of prioritizing demand reduction;

Success: At the request of key Massachusetts policymakers, we joined with our partners to educate legislators on the links between prostitution and sex trafficking. In November 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Commonwealth’s first anti-trafficking legislation that includes the strongest demand provisions of any anti-trafficking law in the country.

    • Enabling implementation of proven and promising practices, policies, and programs for combating demand at the local, state, and national levels, specifically within the criminal justice system;

Success: We’ve partnered with Cook County Sheriff’s Office to organize four National Day of Johns Arrests. More than 20 law enforcement agencies throughout the country—including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Boston police departments—simultaneously conducted sting activities on the streets, in hotels, in brothels, and via the internet.

    • Building a loosely-structured network of multidisciplinary stakeholders positioned to implement or support a broad range of demand reduction initiatives and amplify the abolitionist message; and

Success: We commissioned Abt Associates, Inc. to conduct a landscape analysis of policies, laws, programs, and research related to demand reduction and suggest prioritizing principles for a national campaign. The report, Developing a National Action Plan to Eliminate Sex trafficking, is the first comprehensive assessment of best practices for eliminating demand. More than 150 experts in human trafficking and related fields contributed ideas.

    • Increasing interest and commitment within the philanthropic community (individuals, foundations, corporations) to support demand reduction work.

Success: In May 2010, together with the Embrey Family Foundation, we hosted the National Planning Meeting to Eliminate Demand for Commercial Sex. Some 70 survivors, practitioners, law enforcement personnel, corporate leaders, and donors gathered for what one attendee called an “historic” meeting that examined various demand-reduction tactics.

What You Can Do

The buying and selling of human beings is happening in our own backyard—right here in our country and in every state. Working together, we can change our culture and make it clear that buying vulnerable children, women, and men is unacceptable. Everyone has a role to play in recognizing the harm that purchasing sex brings to us all.