NCOSE Research Institute graphic for Demand Forum
June 17, 2020

Demand Forum, popular tool to curb sex buying, comes to NCOSE!

Men who buy people for sex provide the revenue stream—and thus the economic motivation—for all prostitution and sex trafficking. Their choice to engage in sex buying is the root of sexual exploitation. Without consumer-level demand, there would be no need for pimps and traffickers. Supply (victims) and distribution (sex traffickers) are symptoms. Demand is the cause.

When the role of demand is ignored, the driving force behind these terrible crimes continues to fuel endless cycles of sexual exploitation. This is why the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) works to focus attention and resources on those most responsible for creating harm—sex buyers. This is also why we are extremely excited to announce that the website Demand Forum is now under our management!

What is Demand Forum?

Many of you may have encountered Demand Forum in the past. Demand-Forum.org is a website that was originally launched in 2013 by the research company Abt Associates with support from the National Institute of Justice. The website has been widely used by law enforcement agencies, task forces, and collaborating institutions to design, improve, and sustain programs combating demand, and by state and federal legislatures in crafting human trafficking and prostitution statutes. The site has been used by more than 250,000 people from all 50 states and 175+ other countries. People visit the website to access information about combating prostitution and sex trafficking—particularly the criminal justice strategies and collaborative programs that have been developed to focus on deterring demand.

In the past, information useful for designing demand deterrence programs and guiding operational decisions was scarce. With little guidance from the collective experience of others, the programs that existed struggled or failed when faced with problems that had been solved elsewhere, and other communities hoping to launch programs never managed to get them off the ground.

Demand Forum filled this gap. The site collects and disseminates demand deterrence information intended to be of practical use to practitioners (e.g., law enforcement, public health, and social services), policymakers (e.g., legislators, agency heads, leaders of professional associations and multijurisdictional and collaborative task forces), researchers, and the general public.  The website provides a wide range of information regarding various tactics being used across the country to deter and apprehend sex buyers.  In fact, since its launch Demand Forum has cataloged local efforts to combat demand in more than 2,130 communities throughout the U.S.!

Demand Forum also provides information on 12 major categories of demand reduction interventions and provides overviews of each tactic and summaries for every jurisdiction in which they had been implemented.

There are numerous examples of Demand Forum’s impact. For instance, it was used as key resource shaping legislation (e.g. state laws in Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia); federal legislation and policy in the U.S. (e.g., provided input used by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and its Senior Policy Operating Group, and legislators crafting the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act); and federal legislation and policy abroad (e.g., Canada, Israel, Ireland, South Korea, and France).

Since its initial launch, Demand Forum has cataloged local efforts to combat demand in more than 2,130 communities throughout the U.S.! Click To Tweet

The Future of Demand Forum

Earlier this year, the management of Demand Forum transitioned from Abt Associates to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. In the time since, we’ve been working on necessary technical and administrative changes to make the site operational once again. We are thrilled to be able to let you know that this incredible resource is once again live on the Internet!

Going forward, NCOSE will seek the resources needed to devote substantial time and energy to updating and improving Demand Forum. Of particular importance: new demand deterrence tactics have emerged that were not included in the original typology. The website must be expanded to account for these new tactics, and a rigorous and systematic collection process undertaken to develop the content that fairly represents the range of new tactics and the places in which they have been implemented. We also have plans to develop “tool kits” providing practical, easy to follow guidance on developing demand deterrence programs.

So, if you want a “one stop shop” for all the tools and news you can use to stop sex buyers and stop sexual exploitation, Demand Forum is your destination. Be sure to check back often to see what’s new.

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Lisa L. Thompson

Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Research and Education, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Vice President of Research and Education

As Vice President of Research and Education for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Lisa conducts policy analysis and advocacy, advances understanding of pornography’s public health harms, and liaises with public officials, advocates, and academics to advance strategies combating the web of sexual exploitation, including pornography, stripping, prostitution, sexual trafficking, sexual assault, and more.

Lisa joined NCOSE following two years with World Hope International where as Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa oversaw sex trafficking recovery programs in Cambodia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the book Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global. Lisa also routinely speaks and trains on sexual exploitation topics for a diverse range of audiences. Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters.

Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Western Kentucky University, and Master’s degree in Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues from Union Institute and University.

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