For the past six months I have been writing blogs on the topic of sex trafficking, forced labor, human trafficking and minor sex trafficking. The Human Trafficking Search blog has covered both international and domestic trafficking on all continents, but whether local or abroad, the underlying cause of all types of human trafficking stems from demand. Much like drug trafficking or arms dealing, human trafficking is also an illicit market and is controlled by the basic economic theories of supply and demand. As is common knowledge in the field of economics, once the demand lowers so does the supply. Changing the mindset of the slave buyer is essential to truly eradicate modern-day slavery and end the demand for slaves. Men who Buy Women and Children Very few international organizations, government programs or NGOs even touch on the topic of demand in human trafficking and the organizations that do focus on demand tend to center their efforts on abolishing sex trafficking. Global Centurion, The SAGE Project and Stop Demand are three of the most vocal NGOs that concentrate solely on the demand side of sex trafficking. All three organizations unanimously agree that the only way to end human trafficking is to eradicate the demand.
Changing the Conversation To end demand, men need to be held accountable for their participation in buying women and children for sex. One of The SAGE Project’s most successful programs is the creation of First Offender Prostitution Programs (FOPP) or John Schools. Men who are arrested on first time charges of soliciting prostitution can have the charges erased from their record if they pay a fine and complete a one day class. The goal of the John School is to educate the men of the risks and impact of soliciting prostitution with the belief that if the consumer better understood the sex industry, he would cease to participate in it. Stop Demand is attempting to end sex trafficking before it even starts by encouraging men to take the Man Up! Pledge to promise not to engage in any behavior that sexually exploits women. Global Centurion runs a demand reduction program focused on The Five S’s: Sanctioning Soliciting, Second Chance Schools, Sting and Reverse Sting Operations, Social Marketing Campaigns and Standards. The Five S’s program encourages law enforcement, politicians and johns to engage in the public discourse about the harmful effects of human trafficking.
Demand Change It is difficult to find programs devoted solely to the eradication of demand for human trafficking but the few that exist all agree that the increase of education, prevention, and laws that support rather than prosecute victims of sex trafficking are essential to ending human trafficking. There will always be a demand for sex trafficking unless there is public dialogue and agreement that purchasing another human being for sex is wrong and never consensual. The current public opinion that demonizes the prostituted women as immoral needs to shift that outrage to the consumers who purchase women for sex, only then will the demand for sex trafficking and therefore the supply end.