Why Demand?

While sex trafficking and prostitution are complex social problems, the sex market is driven by sex buyers. Without the business of buyers, pimps and traffickers have no incentive or profit motive to supply vulnerable people to sex buyers. Buying sexual access to people is an abuse of power that violates human dignity and ignores human rights. Creating policies to prevent people from attempting to buy sex and holds buyers accountable for the harm they cause is the surest way to eliminate this harmful industry. It also corrects the historic imbalance in policing commercial sex, which has disproportionately focused on arresting prostituted persons.
The idea that legalization would reduce the amount of harm in the commercial sex industry is a popular myth. The claim is that if the industry were regulated and treated as any other business, that the problems of violence and trafficking would disappear. Research shows otherwise. Countries that have legalized prostitution have experienced a surge in trafficking and rates of violence. The three pronged model that has shown to be effective in reducing overall harm is to decriminalize the act of sex selling, criminalize the act of sex buying, and using the fines imposed on sex buyers to fund direct services to prostituted persons. Research also shows that men say arrests and jail time, increased fines, and sex offender registries will deter them from purchasing sex.



Evidence for Holding Buyers Accountable


Buyer’s Violence


  • Interviews with prostituted individuals in New Zealand reveal that a majority of prostituted people in the country did not feel as if decriminalization had curbed the violence they experience, demonstrating that prostitution is inherently violent and abusive (Report of the Prostitution Law Committee Report; p.14).



Legalization Increases the Size of the Commercial Sex Market



  • Denmark decriminalized prostitution in 1999, and the government’s own estimates show that the prevalence increased substantially over the decade that followed. (Prostitutionens omfang og former 2012/2013: p. 7).



Legalization Has Not Improved Prostituted Persons’ Experiences





Legalization Does Not Decrease Criminal Activity or Transparency



  • A large-scale evaluation of the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands, coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, found that licensed brothels did not welcome frequent regulatory inspections. This undermines their willingness “to adhere to the rules and complicates the combat against trafficking in human beings.” (Prostitution in the Netherlands since the lifting on the brothel ban: p. 11).




  • New Zealand’s Prostitution Law Review Committee found that after decriminalizing prostitution, there still is a problem with lack of respect for employment arrangements among brothel operators. (Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee: p. 159)





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