We Cannot End Sex Trafficking Without Addressing Demand

Posted by on January 11, 2018 in News

Sarah Godoy, anti-trafficking researcher and professor at UCLA, writes for Forbes on tactics that target demand for paid sex, and how members of the community can be involved.

Those working to counter human trafficking want to abolish, or at a minimum dissuade, the use of the Internet to advertise commercial sexual exploitation (often called sex trafficking) on well-known websites, including Craigslist and Backpage. Public discourse tends to focus on prosecuting traffickers—the person(s) forcing, coercing or manipulating a person to perform commercial sexual acts—and the perversion of the Internet to facilitate their relationships with unsuspecting victims. Though less is known about the emergent networks of secret chatrooms, open forums, and membership-only platforms that foster exploitation and sordid sub-communities for sex purchase, and purchasers.

Nationally, over 1,200 cities and counties have implemented 12 salient demand reduction tactics, including reverse stings, “John school,” and public shaming. “Operation On Demand,” an online reserve sting in King County, Seattle, resulted in the arrest of 110 intended sex purchasers. In Jersey City, New Jersey a rigorous study concluded that comprehensively addressing demand reduced sex-for-purchase by 75 percent. Large-scale efforts to deter men from buying sex have rendered meaningful results, including the reduction of commercial sexual exploitation. Still, less is done to address the demand that both influences and encourages the supply and distribution.

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