Men who buy sex create the “demand” that drives the “supply” of vulnerable women and children in the illegal sex trade. Demand Abolition’s four-year initiative, CEASE Network (Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation), was a collaboration of pioneering cities committed to ending forced prostitution and sex trafficking by stopping the demand for paid sex. These cities innovated, tested, and shared best strategies to deter and disrupt people from buying sex. Demand Abolition’s funding and direct oversight of CEASE Network wrapped up in March 2018. The cities are now autonomous and continue to collaborate informally and share best practices to halt sexual exploitation.
When you’re fighting this fight, you need all the friends you can get, and CEASE really has provided that for us many times over…It’s a very rich and high-quality group of individuals who are creative and think outside the box. They’re risk takers. And all of that is being brought to bear on demand, which I think is part of the reason we’re having the impact that we’re having.
– Tom Perez, Portland Coordinator
The traditional, misguided response to sex trafficking has been to arrest and prosecute the youth and women who are often exploited and in vulnerable situations. Recently, law enforcement has aggressively targeted the pimps and traffickers who enable this abuse. But these approaches avoid the real culprits: the men buying sex.
Addressing this form of exploitation at the local level starts with a three-pronged approach: provide support and exit services to the victims, stop the pimps and traffickers, and deter the buyers and hold them accountable. No buyers, no business. Reducing demand for illegal paid sex requires reforming the way we’ve done things to be more effective.
Any success that has come out of Oakland and Alameda County is really due to the willingness of the other CEASE network partners to share and help us and support us along the way.
– Robyn Levinson, Oakland Coordinator
Fighting the complex illegal sex industry on a local level takes coordination and input from many people with varying experience and resources. CEASE Network teams were led by coordinators with strong ties to their community, and a proven ability to bring together diverse stakeholders to achieve a common goal.
CEASE Network’s holistic approach involved people from multiple sectors of the local community, including:
- Survivor leaders who informed and guided efforts, and ensured that no harm was done to people victimized by the sex trade
- Law enforcement professionals who enforced sex buying laws equitably and effectively
- Judges and prosecutors who applied the rule of law fairly and justly
- Service providers who ensured survivor-led support and exit services were readily available
- Advocates and policymakers who shaped local and state laws to support best practices in demand reduction
- Business leaders who ensured company policies and practices discouraged sex buying
- Public health practitioners who implemented programs to address the toxic effects of sex buying behavior in families, communities, and the lives of individuals
- Philanthropists who supported cutting-edge work to reduce victimization from sex trafficking and forced prostitution