Sex trafficked and prostituted individuals are deeply harmed by the abuse they endure. Among myriad chronic illnesses, injuries, and negative psychological impacts, one 2014 study of the health consequences of 106 U.S. sex trafficked victims found that the majority (54.7%) suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and an astronomical 41.5% have attempted suicide at least once.
When most people think about ending sex trafficking and prostitution, they think of rescuing the abused individuals ensnarled in its trap. Rescuing those who have been prostituted is vitally important, but just as important is stopping it before it occurs by stopping those who buy sex.
If men aren’t buying sex, pimps and traffickers won’t be supplying brothels, back alleys, and websites with victims. At the current rate, we can rescue women and twice the amount will fill their spots the next day. We can arrest traffickers and enterprising predators will fill the void. But stop the sex buyers putting cash in the pimps’ pockets… and the market will dry up.
This is why shrinking consumer-level demand (sex buying behavior) is a core objective of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. NCOSE is committed to using its coalition, research, litigation, advocacy, training, and policy strength both in the U.S. and through its global work to eradicate demand for exploited persons.
We Have the Right People
This audacious goal of targeting sex buyers in order to truly shrink the problem of sex trafficking and prostitution has attracted some of the world’s top experts to join our team. In recent years, renowned anti-demand researcher Dr. Michael Shively, visionary Lina Nealon, policy advocate Dr. Eleanor Gaetan, and law enforcement veterans Dr. Stephany Powell and Dr. Marcel van der Watt have joined with us on this quest.
With the help of anti-demand experts Board member Ambassador Swanee Hunt and Advisor Dr. Marian Hatcher, as well as NCOSE’s broad coalition and law enforcement working group, we have built the team that can exact systemic change at the local, state, national, and global levels to reduce sex buying behavior.
We Have the Historical Knowledge
All I have learned about the root cause of sex trafficking and prostitution—sex buying—came from the groundbreaking leadership and fruits of Demand Abolition.
Demand Abolition was founded in 2008 by the Hunt Alternatives Fund to stop sex trafficking in the US by combatting the purchase of prostituted adults and children. The impact and reach of Demand Abolition’s work have been significant. Through workshops, roundtables, and conferences, Demand Abolition created a worldwide network of representatives from a variety of disciplines to share strategies and best practices to address consumer-level demand for commercial sex. Demand Abolition’s CEASE Network (Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation) was a collaboration of twelve pioneering cities — each committed to ending the demand for sexual exploitation through prostitution. This holistic approach involved people from multiple sectors of the local community, including survivor leaders, law enforcement professionals, civil society, and policymakers. Demand Abolition also commissioned a survey completed by 8,201 adult males across the US between December 2016 and January 2017 to address knowledge gaps around issues of demand. The research culminated in the ‘Who Buys Sex’ Report published in 2018. In 2020, the foundation decided to embed Demand Abolition in a like-minded organization with long-term sustainability. In 2022, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation absorbed the archives and active projects of “Demand Abolition.” The name “Demand Abolition” is now used only in association with Ambassador Hunt and the projects past work.”
NCOSE also acquired the tool Demand-Forum.org which details specific tactics used by over 2,000 local communities to curb sex buying behavior. In 2022, NCOSE received the only federal grant focused on demand to update this tool and provide reports to the federal government on law enforcement tactics targeting demand. We are making this information public and are training law enforcement and local leaders on specific, proven ways to shrink the sex trade in their communities.We can rescue prostituted persons and arrest traffickers/pimps, and more will step up to fill the void the next day. But stop the sex buyers putting cash in the pimps' pockets… and the market will dry up. #NoBuyersNoBusiness #StopDemand Click To Tweet
We Have the Right Strategy
As is the case with all NCOSE does, we work in partnership and collaboration with survivors, other non-profits, other experts, government, business, and many others.
With the help of many partners, we are generating political will to enforce existing laws targeting buyers by bridging the gap between policy & practice
NCOSE’s policy team is working to enact stronger legislation at all levels of government focused on strengthening sex buyer accountability. Where laws are strong, we are working to ensure communities and law enforcement have the resources and training to enforce the laws. A key element of the improved laws we advocate for is that sex buyers must be made to pay for harm they have caused. Income-based and escalating fines (as well as jail time ideally) will be used to help pay for services for those abused in the sex trade.
NCOSE is also working to stop bad laws which would legalize sex buying, pimping, and brothel keeping from passing. There is a deliberate effort by the pro-sexual exploitation industry to pass such legislation in local communities and at the state level. To date, NCOSE and its allies have successfully stopped all such efforts from passing state legislatures, despite the incredible amount of money poured in from exploiters and their apologists.
NCOSE has an outstanding record of moving companies to change policies (Google, Comcast, Hilton Hotels, Instagram, and more). Going forward, our corporate advocacy team is looking to influence corporations and institutions to adopt policies prohibiting sex buying behavior. For example, employees should be terminated or put on notice if caught purchasing sex.
NCOSE’s Research Institute will continue to identify initiatives from US and abroad aimed at deterring people who buy sex and will conduct, synthesize, and share research, data, and anecdotal evidence to power the movement.
We Have You!
The only way to truly end sex trafficking and all sexual exploitation is to target sex buyers. It is that simple. This requires systemic changes and the courage to expose the roots at the heart of these problems.
Will you join us in calling for solutions to eradicate sex trafficking? Take these two quick actions!
1. Sign up for Action Alerts, to be kept up to date on how you can help us combat sex trafficking through reducing demand:
2. Ask your local elected officials to focus on reducing sex buying behaviour: