Demand Abolition is committed to eradicating the illegal commercial sex industry in the US—and, by extension, the world—by combating the demand for purchased sex. We are catalyzing social change to reflect the dignity of all people, insisting that an inherent human right is that no person can be bought or sold. Human trafficking/prostitution continues to flourish, degrading those being prostituted (usually women and children) as well as the men who are buying them.
Recognizing that it takes sustained efforts and significant collaboration to establish lasting change, we’re spearheading a multi-year, multi-stakeholder national strategy. Working closely with an active network of criminal justice professionals, survivors, practitioners, researchers, policymakers, corporate leaders, philanthropists, and media representatives we’re aiming to serve as the nexus of information on policies and practices. The program is identifying and advocating for demand-reduction interventions that are respectful, pragmatic, sustainable, and effective.
How We Work
Demand Abolition seeks to abolish the illegal commercial sex industry in the United States by eradicating the demand for purchased sex. Focusing initially on criminal justice system efforts, we are:
- Driving the development and dissemination of a compelling, evidence-based case for eliminating demand while encouraging additional research and evaluation in the field;
Success: We partnered with Prostitution Research and Education on an unprecedented study examining the attitudes and behaviors of men toward prostitution. The report, Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex, breaks new ground by directly comparing these two groups, bringing to light significant findings including what would deter men from purchasing sex.
- Convincing criminal justice professionals and policymakers of the strategic importance of prioritizing demand reduction;
Success: At the request of key Massachusetts policymakers, we joined with our partners to educate legislators on the links between prostitution and sex trafficking. In November 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Commonwealth’s first anti-trafficking legislation that includes the strongest demand provisions of any anti-trafficking law in the country.
- Enabling implementation of proven and promising practices, policies, and programs for combating demand at the local, state, and national levels, specifically within the criminal justice system;
Success: We’ve partnered with Cook County Sheriff’s Office to organize fourNational Day of Johns Arrests. More than 20 law enforcement agencies throughout the country—including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Boston police departments—simultaneously conducted sting activities on the streets, in hotels, in brothels, and via the internet.
- Building a loosely-structured network of multidisciplinary stakeholders positioned to implement or support a broad range of demand reduction initiatives and amplify the abolitionist message; and
Success: We commissioned Abt Associates, Inc. to conduct a landscape analysis of policies, laws, programs, and research related to demand reduction and suggest prioritizing principles for a national campaign. The report, Developing a National Action Plan to Eliminate Sex trafficking, is the first comprehensive assessment of best practices for eliminating demand. More than 150 experts in human trafficking and related fields contributed ideas.
- Increasing interest and commitment within the philanthropic community (individuals, foundations, corporations) to support demand reduction work.
Success: In May 2010, together with the Embrey Family Foundation, we hosted the National Planning Meeting to Eliminate Demand for Commercial Sex. Some 70 survivors, practitioners, law enforcement personnel, corporate leaders, and donors gathered for what one attendee called an “historic” meeting that examined various demand-reduction tactics.
What You Can Do
The buying and selling of human beings is happening in our own backyard—right here in our country and in every state. Working together, we can change our culture and make it clear that buying vulnerable children, women, and men is unacceptable. Everyone has a role to play in recognizing the harm that purchasing sex brings to us all.
February 4, 2015
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Eleven pioneering cities today announced the launch of the CEASE Network (Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation), a collaboration of men and women committed to combatting sex trafficking by reducing demand for buying sex by 20 percent in two years.
Unveiled at a Phoenix, AZ, gathering of national anti-trafficking leaders, the launch marks the beginning of a two-year countdown to reduce demand for paid sex in many major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago (Cook County, IL), Dallas (North Texas), Denver, Houston, Oakland (Alameda County, CA), Phoenix, Portland (Multnomah County, OR), San Diego, and Seattle (King County, WA).
Demand Abolition, a non-profit based in Cambridge, MA, is catalyzing this new initiative to forge a network of cities that are independently developing their own strategies and tactics to reduce sex-buying. The program’s ultimate goal is to fuel a movement in hundreds of cities across the U.S. that targets sex buyers as an effective means of ending commercial sexual exploitation.
“Human beings –particularly women and children—are being bought for sex in every corner of our country and the majority are there by force, either at the hands of abusive pimps and traffickers, or because they lack other options,” said Lina Nealon, Founding Director of Demand Abolition. “The CEASE Network is an action-oriented network testing innovative approaches to reduce demand: No buyers equals no business.”
The network members will collect and analyze data on the illegal sex market, and monitor sex-buying using offline and online channels. That analysis will inform the design and implementation of tactics tailored to the individual needs of each community. CEASE Network members will share findings, successes, and challenges with other cities for rapid learning across the country. Many of the 11 pilot teams have already begun executing strategies for reducing demand.
In Phoenix, survivors of sexual exploitation, CEASE Network coordinators, police and prosecutors, policymakers, researchers, and philanthropists from across the country gathered this week for five days of planning and workshops. At an opening dinner, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Founder and Chair of Demand Abolition, joined former Congresswoman Linda Smith, founder and chair of Shared Hope International, in formally launching the two-year reduction countdown.
“Sex-buying is not a victimless crime. It deprives vulnerable people of their basic human rights, damages sex buyers and their families, and hurts the community at large by fueling an illegal industry,” Ambassador Hunt said. “Just as we did with domestic violence, we can change social norms to hold perpetrators accountable and provide options to those who want to escape – which in the case of prostitution is the vast majority.”
The gathering in Phoenix followed the ninth “National Day of Johns Arrests,” which culminated with hundreds of arrests of sex buyers during Super Bowl week. The nationwide sting operation brought together 37 agencies throughout 17 states in a widespread crackdown on the demand for paid sex, and led to the arrests of 570 attempted sex buyers and 23 traffickers.
“We’re facilitating a strategic shift in how law enforcement addresses prostitution,” said Sheriff Thomas J. Dart of Cook County Illinois, who conceived National Day of Johns Arrests in 2011, and whose office has been coordinating it ever since. “The victims need treatment rather than punishment, and sex buyers should be held responsible for their roles in perpetrating the sex trafficking industry.”
Lifelong humanitarian Cindy McCain addressed the launch by video, saying, “I am pleased to be a part of Demand Abolition’s effort to reduce demand for commercial sex in Arizona. We have worked hard on increased penalties for traffickers and increased protection and added services for victims. As a community, it is time that we work together to hold buyers accountable and give a voice to the voiceless.”