June 5, 2014
CAMBRIDGE, MA – The city of Boston has launched an initiative to reduce demand for prostitution by 20 percent over the next two years by going after the men who buy sex rather than targeting the women and children who are being prostituted.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the program on Tuesday, June 3, at a gathering in Boston attended by more than 140 police officers, survivors of prostitution, prosecutors, philanthropists, faith community leaders, business professionals, and experts in the anti-trafficking field.
For a more video coverage of the event, visit the City of Boston’s website.
The Boston city administration is partnering with Demand Abolition, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that works nationally to reduce demand for paid sex. Boston is joining several cities across the United States in an initiative supported by Demand Abolition to develop and implement campaigns that target the “johns” who buy sex as the most effective way to disrupt the commercial sex industry.
”In Boston, we will not tolerate the buying and selling of human beings,” Walsh declared in opening remarks. Mayor Walsh warned sex buyers they will be arrested; professional or social status will offer no protection from prosecution. Walsh recalled meeting a 14-year-old girl who was being prostituted by a 70-year-old man. “A teenage girl should be thinking about graduating from high-school and going to college, not coming to my office looking for safety,” the mayor said.
Ambassador Swanee Hunt, the chair of Demand Abolition, said that law enforcement alone cannot halt the trafficking in women’s bodies for sex. She said the community needs to become involved in raising awareness and changing societal acceptance of prostitution.
“We must see prostitution for what it is: an extension of sexual violence,” said Amb. Hunt, who also is the founder and president of Hunt Alternatives, an operating foundation that supports global security and social justice programs.
Lina Nealon and Ziba Cranmer, the co-directors of Demand Abolition, led working sessions at the Boston summit to develop a public-private partnership involving the mayor’s office and to begin outlining demand-based interventions that a core team comprised of people from across sectors and disciplines will implement. The nationwide cities initiative will focus in part on using technology to disrupt the online sex market which has moved almost entirely online.
Police Commissioner William Evans vowed to invest the necessary resources to target the buyers of sex: “Demand is where we need to go, and demand is where we are going to go,” he said.
Detective Sergeant Donna Gavin, who leads the Boston Police Department Human Trafficking Unit, said, “If guys weren’t buying, the pimps wouldn’t be selling.”
The Boston Globe, WGBH and WBUR were among the media outlets covering the launch.
Photos from the Event
Mayor Martin J. Walsh pledges to reduce demand for illegal commercial sex in Boston by 20 percent in two years. More than 140 police officers, survivors of prostitution, prosecutors, philanthropists, faith community leaders, business professionals, and experts in the anti-trafficking field attended the event.
Visit Demand Abolition on Flickr for more photos »
Demand Abolition is a program of Hunt Alternatives. For more information, contact James Smith at 617.995.1920 (office) or 617.750.5584 (cell).