The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) feels it is critical to shrink the commercial sex trade, including sex trafficking. The research shows that the most efficient way to do this is to go after the people driving the demand for exploited persons—specifically, the sex buyers.
One of our strategies to decrease the demand is to get legislation passed in the United States and nationally that prioritizes exit strategies and support for victims while strongly penalizing and deterring buyers.
Recently, our movement saw major wins in Maine and in Texas—two very different regions of our country. Texas is majority Republican, while Maine is majority Democrat. The amazing thing is that both states landed on the same critical need to solve the problem: male accountability. Two different states sent a message loud and clear: it’s unacceptable to buy another human being for sex.
Sex buying is the problem. This is the demand that fuels the commercial sex trade and continues to exploit vulnerable men, women, and children.
Focusing on the sex buyer is the solution for our nation. Both sides, when equipped with the facts, agree.
Two different states sent a message loud and clear: it’s unacceptable to buy another human being for sex.
Maine LD 1582
The innovative bill we helped to draft and push in Maine, LD 1592, correctly reframes prostitution as a problem of demand and classifies buying sex as a crime of commercial sexual exploitation with harsh fines that can then be used to help provide services to victims of prostitution/sex trafficking.
Texas HB 1540
The precedent-setting bill in Texas, HB 1540, signed by the Governor today, makes purchasing sex a felony for a first offense. This is a major way to deter people from engaging in the sex trade and will decrease the demand, ultimately shrinking the exploitation industry.
U.S. HR 2332
Another badly needed bill we’ve been involved with and which stemmed from our dear friend and advisor’s, Marian Hatcher, testimony to Congress. The Debt Bondage Repair Act (H.R. 2332) passed the U.S. House.
This bill will help victims of human trafficking recover from the financial harm inflicted by traffickers. It prevents adverse credit reporting of incidents that occurred while victims were being trafficked, allowing survivors to put the past behind them and get a fresh start in life.
Importance of Demand Reduction
Once you normalize the sex trade, it explodes.
To satisfy demand, the sex trade has to lure in vulnerable people, because there are never enough women willing to be exploited and degraded in prostitution. Sex trafficking cases increased 70% in Germany as a result of legalization. In the Netherlands where prostitution was legalized in 2000, an estimated 50-90% of women are selling their bodies against their will.
There are many ways that sexually exploitative industries and their advocates have attempted to normalize and legitimize the prostitution of human beings, but they all have significant problems and lead to destructive harms of all kinds.
Prostitution is inherently dangerous and harmful. The only way to protect people is to shrink the market.
Proponents of full decriminalization of prostitution attempt to frame their perspective as being safer for prostituted people; however, the research indicates that the legalization or full decriminalization of prostitution is a dangerous thing for the prostituted people involved.
Demand is the root cause of the host of harms brought on by prostitution. It’s simple: Reduce demand, reduce the undeniable harms of prostitution.
Despite a pandemic’s worth of media messaging that prostitution is somehow just a job like any other—never mind the life-long physical, emotional, and mental trauma it causes—the truth wins! Now that we are active in the legislatures, we are winning! The other side, though better-funded and very organized, has not been able to gain an inch.
These three recent policy wins are a monumental shift in courts and legislatures, now rightfully beginning to focus on demand reduction and holding the sex buyer accountable. Congratulations and thank you for helping us to be a voice for human dignity!
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Learn more about demand reduction at EndSexualExploitation.org/Demand.