United States: Anti-Sex-Trafficking Activists Shift Legal Focus to Men Who Buy Sex
Sunday, April 24, 2011 9:50 PM

Anti-sex-trafficking activists are leading a strategy to shift the legal focus from the victims to the buyers, known as “johns.” This strategy shift toward the demand has resulted in state legislation changes as well as increasing educational programs focusing on the damage johns inflict through soliciting sex.

Traditionally, sex-trafficking victims faced more punitive measures in sex-trafficking crimes, while johns faced minimal punishment. However, this has slowly shifted with the opening of schools for johns. These are schools that provide educational programs for men who pay for sex, teaching them the consequences of solicited sex and emphasizing the harm that is inflicted on the exploited women. In some states, men arrested for soliciting sex may pay a reduced fine in exchange for attending a john school course. One of the reasons for the shift is that educating sex buyers can reduce the demand for purchasing human beings for sex. Decreasing customer demand for prostitution essentially decreases sex-trafficking itself.

Legislation in several states has shifted to more severe punishments for sex buyers. A number of states have also instituted “safe harbor” laws that shield sexually exploited children from legal repercussions, instead focusing legal consequences on pimps and johns. Shifting the focus to the demand side of sex-trafficking takes a human rights approach to the issue by validating the victim's trauma and by holding the perpetrators accountable.

Compiled from: WeNewsAnti-Sex Trade Turns to Focus on Men Who Buy Sex, (18 April 2011).