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Demand Abolition commissioned Abt Associates, Inc. to review practice, policy, law, and research related to demand reduction and suggest prioritizing principles for a national campaign. The final report, “Developing a National Action Plan to Eliminate Sex Trafficking,” is the first comprehensive assessment of best practices for eliminating demand, with more than 150 experts in the modern abolitionist movement and related fields contributing their ideas.

The report begins with a thorough review of strategic frameworks that could support a cohesive national campaign. An emphasis is placed on the need to ensure all programs are adequately assessed for effectiveness. Later chapters detail the impact and lessons learned in areas in the US and internationally where robust anti-demand initiatives have already launched.

The report also provides a useful typology of anti-demand tactics and highlights first offender education programs or “john schools” — one of the few tactics “uniquely tailored to address the buyers of commercial sex.” There are various “john school” models — including many that ensure perpetrators face stiff penalties for their crimes along with the educational component. A Department of Justice-funded study showed San Francisco’s program reduced recidivism rates by more than 40 percent.

Demand Reduction Strategies

Abt has tallied the number of US cities and counties that use anti-demand interventions. Reverse stings (female police posing as prostituted women to arrest buyers) are by far the most common. Although mounting evidence suggests their effectiveness, only 50 “john schools” are currently in operation.

Strategy Program Count
Law enforcement 1,588
-Reverse stings 887
-Shaming and “Dear John” letters 413
-Other efforts 288
Neighborhood programs 80
“John schools” 50
Public awareness/education 41

The final chapters look closely at laws and policies intended to curb demand for illegal commercial sex. While the federal framework is quite extensive and multiple agencies engage in anti-trafficking activities, the report calls for a more cohesive and visible approach that highlights successful laws, programs, and initiatives. At the time the study was conducted, five US states did not have any human trafficking laws, including Massachusetts, and only five that do have laws include any mention of demand.

Comprehensive and highly informative, the landscape analysis is a tool for Demand Abolition and stakeholders in the greater anti-demand movement as we strive to refine, design, and advocate for successful, evidence-based initiatives to eliminate demand.

Download Report

Executive Summary: Developing a National Action Plan for Eliminating Sex Trafficking
PDF – 183k
August 2010

Full Report: Developing a National Action Plan for Eliminating Sex Trafficking
PDF – 3.2m
August 2010