Addressing Demand: Examining New Practices

The Five S’s

© Laura J. Lederer, J.D.

President of, Global Centurion

The Clinton Administration developed the three P’s framework (Prevention, Prosecution, and Protection) to help countries think holistically about addressing human trafficking. During the Bush Administration, we referred to the four Rs (Rescue, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reintegration) to describe the comprehensive sets of services for victims.  How about the five S’s to begin thinking about demand?

Sanctioning Soliciting:

In 1999, Swedish lawmakers decriminalized prostitution and criminalized the purchase of sex. 1 Selling sex is not a crime, but buying it is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This ban on the purchase of sexual services is the first of its kind worldwide. The rationale behind the law, now a decade old, is that prostitution is a form of male violence against women, and that it is a form of discriminatory behavior.2 The law is unique in that it takes the law enforcement focus off the women and children in prostitution, and puts it on the end user, or customer.  It should also reduce pimping, pandering, brothels, and other activities that are already illegal, because if there is reduced demand, those who are involved in prostitution and related activities for profit will no longer be able to sustain their businesses. Norway has recently adopted a similar law.3 “People are not merchandise, and criminalizing the purchase of sexual services will make it less attractive for human traffickers to look to Norway,” Justice Minister Knut Storberget said in a statement.

“State laws in the U.S. allow for enforcement practices similar to those in Sweden and Norway.” Laws against soliciting are gender neutral and in many states law enforcement officials are increasingly insuring that the law is applied to purchasers. The work of Global Centurion and SCT Now builds on this approach. Targeting the most egregious sex slavery – that of children trafficked into prostitution – Global Centurion and SCT Now are creating teams of investigators to work alongside law enforcement officials to gather information and build cases against purchasers who are exploiting children. This unique concept will disrupt the traditional sanctuaries of child predators, increase arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, and, we hope, dramatically reduce demand.

Second Chance Schools:

More commonly and colloquially known as “Johns Schools,” the concept for a one-day school was developed by the late Norma Hotaling.4 Norma, a survivor of prostitution, founded the organization SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) in 1992.  It was a resource, advocacy, and counseling center for those trafficked into or trapped in prostitution. Four years later, she helped the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office create a first-of-its-kind class for johns caught soliciting prostitutes.5 The First Offender Prostitution Program, now replicated in 40 U.S. cities, as well as dozens abroad, allows first offenders to have their charges dropped if they pay a $1,000 fine and participate in an eight-hour course taught by sex trafficking-experts, prosecutors, police, neighborhood activists, and health educators who discuss the downsides of prostitution. Participants also hear from victims of trafficking; examine their own motivations for buying sex; and learn about the nature and scope and harm of trafficking. The program was lauded in a 2008 U.S. Department of Justice study, which concluded that men who attended San Francisco’s “john school” were 30 percent less likely to be rearrested for soliciting a prostitute than men who did not attend such a program.6

Sting and Reverse Sting Operations:

According to Community Oriented Policing Services (U.S. Department of Justice), Problem-Oriented Policing Teams conducting prostitution sting operations and reverse sting operations are getting results.7 In sting operations, police pose as prostitutes.  Police officers use this method to identify customers. In reverse sting operations, using a reverse tactic, police officers pose as customers seeking to find sex for hire. Once inside supposed massage parlors or other front operations, police can gather evidence and make arrests after determining illegal activity.  In online sting operations police detectives, acting as potential customers for these Internet-based sites, gather evidence for cases.  Law enforcement is especially targeting online personal profile ads, such as those seen on major barter and sale lists and other similar sites. Increasingly the Internet is being utilized by traffickers, and police have uncovered many cases of illegal activity, particularly child sex trafficking.

Social marketing campaigns:

An important demand reduction strategy is an education and awareness campaign aimed at boys and young men.  Such a campaign should tailor the programmatic materials from the First Offender Programs for early education as a possible way of reaching young people in their formative years. Experts studying First Offender Programs have reported males saying, “Why didn’t I hear any of this twenty years ago?”8 Campaigns should focus on the negative consequences of purchasing sex, from the public and private health problems like the spread of HIV and other STDs, to the grim facts about who runs the sex trade and how customers are helping traffickers flourish and hurting those who has been trafficked. The purpose is to make the harm visible. The messaging needs to be carefully developed to reach the target audience (young males before they have become users/customers). While this seems like an overwhelming task (given the ubiquitous cultural messages glorifying sex and glamorizing prostitution) we should take heart from other successful social marketing campaigns that have targeted intractable or entrenched social practices.  Two come to mind:  the recent campaign against cigarette smoking, and a similar campaign to combat domestic violence.9

One social marketing campaign is the “Dear John” campaign in Atlanta, Georgia. “Dear John” is a public education campaign to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children, with Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Juvenile Justice Fund and a wide-range of supporters. The campaign seeks to educate and activate audiences to help stem the problem.10 The campaign features a letter from Mayor Franklin: “Dear John: You have been abusing our kids, prostituting them, and throwing them on the street when you’re done. As Mayor of Atlanta, I have promised to listen to people. Kids are no exception.   When you buy sex from our kids, you hurt them, you hurt our families, and you hurt our city.  It’s over John. No more, Not in Our City.”

Standards:

At the bottom of the problem is an increasing commodification that extends even to human beings, a belief that anything, even a life, can be bought anytime, anywhere, any place for any purpose.  This license masquerades as liberty and allows the worst kinds of exploitation to flourish.  In addition to legal and educational solutions, we will have to continue to work as a global community to develop human rights, religious, and values-based visions that promote the sacredness, dignity, and worth of all human beings.


Notes

1 Law (1998:408); Relating to a ban on purchase of sexual services; Swedish Penal Code; Chapter 6, Sex Crimes; “The person, who for payment has casual sex, is …convicted of purchase of sexual services and is fined or sentenced to prison for a maximum of six months”.  A penalty is also imposed for attempt.

2 Ekberg, Gunilla; The Swedish Law that Prohibits the Sale of Sexual Services, Violence Against Women, 1008, October 2004:  “In Sweden, it is understood that any society that claims to defend principles of legal, political, economic, and social equality for women and girls must reject the idea that women and children, mostly girls, are commodities that can be bought, sold, and sexually exploited by men. To do otherwise is to allow that a separate class of female human beings, especially women and girls who are economically and racially marginalized, is excluded from these measures, as well as from the universal protection of human dignity enshrined in the body of international human rights instruments developed during the past 50 years (Ministry of Industry, Employment, and Communications, 2004).

3General Civil Penal Code 202a ; November, 2008; “Any person (who) engages in or aids and abets another person to engage in sexual activity or commit a sexual act on making or agreeing payment shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.”

4 The concept of johns education began in 1981 when Cindy Sikkema started running “John Groups” in Grand Rapids Michigan.  In 1988 Steve Sawyer of Minneapolis/St. Paul developed a counseling program for men who had been arrested for prostitution.  Norma Hotaling refined and enlarged the concept, engaging the City of San Francisco, the Mayor’s Office, the District Attorney, and others to help build and sustain the program.  from notes by Michael Shively

5 SAGE, First Offender Prostitution Program; http://www.sagesf.org/html/about_services_fopp.htm

6 Final Report on the Evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program; Author: Michael Shively, Ph.D.; Sarah Kuck Jalbert ; Ryan Kling ; William Rhodes, Ph.D.; Peter Finn; Chris Flygare; Laura Tierney; Dana Hunt, Ph.D.; David Squires ; Christina Dyous ; Kristin Wheeler Document No.: 222451; Date Received: March 2008; Award Number: 2005-DD-BX-0037; Available on-line; U.S. Department of Justice, NCJRS.

7 Community Oriented Policing Services, “Problem-Oriented Guides for Police: Response Guides Series; Guide No. 6: Sting Operations; by Graeme R. Newman with the assistance of Kelly Socia.  In Sting operations, “Female decoys or plainclothes detectives are typically used in prostitution operations. These stings always result in many arrests and good publicity.  Some researchers have concluded that they have no overall effect on clients, however new studies, such as the Brewer study, is evidence that arrest alone serves to deter men from soliciting sex. Brewer, D.; Potterat, J.J.; Muth, S.Q.; and Roberts, J.M.; Dudeck, J.A.; & Woodhouse, D.E.  (2007). A Large Specific Deterrent Effect of Arrest for Patronizing a Prostitute. Final Report to U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.  Research Grant #2003-IJ-CX-1036.  In addition, there are other benefits from sting operations.  For example, they also help police serve numerous outstanding warrants for offenders wanted for other types of crime. An FBI sting took over a credit card processing company and identified those who had used credit cards to pay for sex. It then processed payments to and from the brothels over a three-year period. This resulted in snagging $100,000 in bribes of local police and the closing of 18 parlors.”

8 Laura Lederer interviews with Norma Hotaling, January, 2007.

9 A thorough study of the twenty year campaign to reduce cigarette smoking in young people is a useful starting point.  The U.S. Department of Health and human Services, in conjunction with the NIH, CDC, and other health agencies funded a series of studies over many decades on effective efforts to reduce smoking.  Noting that tobacco use usually begins during adolescence or young adulthood, they agreed that preventing smoking initiation among youths and young adults is critical to reducing tobacco use in the United States. They noted that young people constitute the youngest market for the tobacco industry and that adolescents are the target of intensive tobacco industry marketing efforts, including sponsorship of age-specific promotions and other marketing strategies that appeal to persons in these age groups. Efforts to reduce cigarette smoking included 1) providing effective smoking-cessation interventions and guidelines tailored to youths and young adults in school, work, and community settings; 2) conducting counter-marketing campaigns designed to help young persons reject messages promoting cigarette use, 3) reducing access by minors to tobacco products, 4) increasing access to school programs for preventing tobacco use; and 3) monitoring smoking trends among youths and young adults. Substitute “commercial sexual exploitation” for “smoking” and we have a starting point for a social marketing campaign to counter demand.

10 Atlanta Women’s Agenda, http://www.womensagenda.com/dearjohn.htm; Stephanie Davis, Policy Advisor on Women’s Issues, Office of the Mayor.