Ending Prostitution: New Online Resource Details 900+ U.S. Initiatives to Combat Sex Trafficking

Demandforum.net to Help Practitioners Start, Improve Community Programs to Stop Commercial Sex Trade

Jan 15, 2013, 12:30 ET from Abt Associates

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It takes three conditions to keep a market flourishing: supply, demand and distribution.  Eliminate demand from the equation, and the market collapses—even if it's the age-old business of prostitution. Demandforum.net, a website officially introduced today by Abt Associates, is the first venue to offer comprehensive information on the more than 900 city and county initiatives in the U.S that aim to combat prostitution by getting men to stop buying sex.

"Businesses can't stay afloat if they don't have buyers, and that's what these efforts are about in over 900 U.S. communities—discouraging men from buying sex," said Michael Shively, Ph.D., developer of the website and senior associate in Abt's U.S. Health Division. 

According to Shively, the idea to build the website was a result of Abt's nationwide assessment of sex trafficking demand-reduction efforts conducted for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) beginning in 2008.  "We found hundreds of programs in the U.S. that were targeting the demand for commercial sex but most were operating in isolation. Staff from one program didn't often know about other programs in a neighboring state.  We found through our research that police and community organizations and other stakeholders interested in ending sex trafficking and prostitution welcome the opportunity to learn what others were doing, and to share their information as well."

Demandforum.net offers detailed descriptions of anti-demand tactics employed throughout the U.S. as well as challenges faced by programs and how they overcame them. "This is a place where practitioners can find information that can help them start, improve or sustain initiatives," said Shively.  The site also features a map of the U.S. with markers over areas of the country where programs are offered. Visitors to the site need only click on the marker to link to a description of the program or use the drop down menu to find programs and tactics. 

The site also offers a wide range of resources about anti-demand tactics, including media coverage and interviews, and information on organizations and agencies working to end demand or provide survivor support, reference materials and a blog.

Anti-demand tactics appear successful, according to the evaluation and feasibility studies that Shively and his team conducted on the john school in San Francisco for NIJ between 2005-2008. "We found that the day-long instruction for first-time offenders about the health risks and legal consequences they faced, and the impact on prostituted women, trafficked girls, and the community reduced re-arrest by 40 percent." The study involved data collection and analysis of over 80,000 who had been arrested for buying sex in California over a 20-year time period. 

In 2008, NIJ retained Abt Associates to describe anti-demand tactics and initiatives countrywide.  A final report, "A National Overview of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Efforts," delivered in April 2012, includes descriptions of reverse stings –where police pose as prostitutes at the street-level or as decoys in hotels or apartments or in brothels—and other tactics including shaming, seizing autos used to solicit sex, suspending driver's licenses, and neighborhood action.

About Abt Associates

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators.  The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries. www.abtassociates.com

SOURCE Abt Associates