How NCOSE is Challenging Sex Buyers: Progress from 2022

Several years ago, I attended a regional meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) that focused on combating human trafficking. A justice official from Massachusetts made a presentation about a case that was correctly framed as a law enforcement success story, in which a sexually exploited teenage homeless girl was rescued, and her trafficker was arrested and then convicted.  

It was learned that this girl had been sold for sexual abuse to approximately 200 men prior to her rescue.

As I listened to the presentation, I was of course heartened to hear that the trafficker was imprisoned and the young girl was freed from her captors. But I knew something crucial was missing. So I put up my hand and asked, “What about the 200 unsolved rapes?”

Although this girl’s trafficker was in jail, no thought had been given to prosecute the 200 men who had paid to sexually abuse her. This girl did not – and could not, being a minor – consent to sexual contact with these men. Nonconsensual sex is rape.

So why was there no accountability for the 200 men who raped this sex trafficked minor?

The truth is, without these men, no abuse would have occurred. And this is true of all sex trafficking and prostitution. 

Without the men who buy sexual access to exploited persons (a.k.a. “sex buyers”), there would be no such thing as sex trafficking or prostitution. If there is no market, it is not possible to “sell sex”. Sex cannot be sold to nobody. And without the revenue, which originates entirely from the pockets of sex buyers, there is no reason for pimps and traffickers to acquire, control, and exploit vulnerable people.

Unfortunately, despite the pivotal role sex buyers play in driving the market for sexual exploitation, and despite the direct harm they inflict on prostituted and sex trafficked people, sex buyers are often left to act with impunity.

But the National Center on Sexual Exploitation is working to change this.

2022 Progress Towards Holding Sex Buyers Accountable

One of NCOSE’s core objectives is to END SEX TRAFFICKING, PROSTITUTION, AND ALL EXPLOITATION BY CHALLENGING SEX BUYERS. And thanks to people like YOU who have joined us in this fight, 2022 has been a year of incredible progress towards achieving this goal.

Here are just a few highlights:

LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING

  • To equip law enforcement with the tools needed to combat sex buying, NCOSE created the ELEET (Equipping Law Enforcement to End Trafficking) Training Program. This program is facilitated by Stephany Powell, a 30+ year veteran in law enforcement with a deep expertise in survivor services, and myself, Dr. Michael Shively. This program is garnering incredible results. For example, after one ELEET session, 80% of those in attendance agreed that reducing sex buying needed to become an increased priority for law enforcement.

POLICY

  • NCOSE’s Policy team blocked efforts to remove sex buying from the federal law defining sex trafficking. This was a key goal of our opposition in order to undermine any significant efforts to shrink the prostitution marketplace.
  • Our Policy team also stopped efforts by local district attorneys to adopt policies that would not prosecute sex buyers and pimps, as well as halted full decriminalization of sex buying bills from passing in any state legislature where it was introduced.

RESEARCH

  • Our Research Institute team is concluding its two-year National Institutes of Justice (NIJ) grant responsibilities to build out and update the Demand Forum website. This website comprehensively documents tactics that have been used in the United States to combat sex buying. Research findings were presented in three papers at the prestigious American Society of Criminology conference in November.
  • In May, our Research Institute released a new publication, Why Sex Buyers Must Be Stopped and How to Do It. Download this publication for FREE, to educate yourself and others!

LITIGATION

  • Christen Price, Esq., Senior Legal Counsel at NCOSE, is leading a lawsuit against the State of Nevada – the only state where sex buying, pimping, and brothel keeping is legal in certain areas. A major claim in the case is that these defendants, acting as they did and continue to do, create conditions of involuntary servitude and debt bondage for trafficked women that is unique to Nevada and these conditions, and constitutes a violation of the 13th Amendment, which banned both slavery and involuntary servitude. We are challenging these policies – and sending a message to other states considering such a change.

You can read more about the progress you’ve made possible by downloading our 2022 Gratitude Report.

Take Action! Contact Your Legislators

You can make a difference today by taking 30 seconds to email your local elected officials and tell them to increase accountability for sex buyers! 

The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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