The CEASE Network (Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation) is educating and deterring sex buyers all over America—taking on the predatory practices of sex-buying and sex trafficking at the source. Our motivation is simple: if no one buys sex, or is too afraid of the legal and social consequences to do so, sex-buying and sex trafficking will disappear.
And the efforts are paying off. Here are just a few ways CEASE teams are making a difference in their communities.
King County’s CEASE team, the Buyer Beware initiative, has dramatically shifted how police view prostitution in Seattle. Since the program’s launch, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says he’s seen an important “course correction” in the local police force, who are now arresting more men on patronizing charges and fewer women on prostitution charges. And the good news doesn’t end there. “What’s not reflected in the statistics is the attitudes of officers on the streets,” said Satterberg. “Women are saying, ‘Officers are coming up to us and asking if they can help us’” (by referring them to social-service providers should they want them).
The effort isn’t just about busting sex buyers; it’s about educating them. A new, 10-week intervention program, designed and taught by CEASE Network coordinator Peter Qualliotine, is also seeing early success. Men convicted of patronizing are court-ordered to take the course, which helps them examine their attitudes about sexuality and unpack their motivations for paying prostituted women and girls for sex.
Read about Buyer Beware’s success in the Seattle Times.
CEASE Boston works very closely with Mayor Marty Walsh, who has made the reduction of sex-buying and sex trafficking a focal point of his administration. “We need to punish the johns and help the women with treatment if they want it,” Walsh told NPR’s Bob Oakes in a recent interview, discussing why this issue is so important to him.
Survivor voices are amplified in Boston as well. In a recent column, Boston Globe writer Yvonne Abraham interviewed two survivor leaders who discussed the rise of online prostitution and how the anonymity it provides has made life more dangerous for prostituted women.
“Behind those online classifieds are legions of women and girls— alone in hotel rooms visited by 10 or more johns a day. Those buyers once had to risk being seen in the act of solicitation but now find prostitutes with a few clicks of a mouse in the privacy of their own homes. Pimps park women in these hotel rooms, sometimes in cities they don’t know, without friends or money or cars or cellphones. Every knock on the door brings somebody who might hurt them.”
Read Yvonne’s story in the Boston Globe
Ziba Cranmer, executive director of Demand Abolition, speaks with Kelly Bates of New England Cable News about how the end of sex trafficking, sex-buying, and all its related crimes and harms starts with holding buyers accountable.
Prior to the launch of Denver’s CEASE team, the city’s police force was arresting nearly three prostituted people for every one sex buyer. Now it’s the opposite, thanks to a coordinated effort by prosecutors, police, the department of human services, and the mayor’s office—who make up the core of the city’s CEASE team.
Read about Denver CEASE team’s success in the Denver Post
CEASE Phoenix Metro and the City of Phoenix Human Trafficking Task Force launched a successful initiative targeting would-be sex-buyers in a four-day operation. “Jamming the Johns” created fake advertisements for commercial sex; instead of calling a prostituted person, 235 Arizona men wound up speaking with local police detectives. The officers explained just how damaging the illegal sex industry is for most women involved, and informed the attempted buyers of their new policy—arresting suspected sex buyers. Of the men who called:
- Only six hung up when the detectives disclosed their true identities, leaving 229 who listened to the whole intervention.
- Twenty-five percent visited a website set up by CEASE Phoenix that informs about the harms of sex buying and provides information on how to stop.
- Several called from their office lines at 30 Arizona businesses, including those in the entertainment, pharmaceutical, technology, manufacturing, and transportation fields.
- Eighty percent responded to only one ad, indicating that most are casual sex buyers rather than “hobbyists.”
- Sixty-eight of the calls resulted in a positive reaction from the caller. Responses included “Thank you,” “Understood, lesson learned,” and “Thank you for the warning; I will not be doing this anymore.” One man said: “I appreciate what you’re doing. I have daughters as well. They’re younger ones, but they’ll grow up one day; scary thought! Once again, thank you.”
CEASE Phoenix Metro has also secured 52 electronic billboards, thanks to collaboration with Clear Channel Media, which will allow them to educate potential sex buyers on the personal, social, and legal consequences they face if arrested.