Sex Trafficking and Masculinity


Sex trafficking operates on market principles. This means that, like other markets, it is structured by both supply and demand — and it “is the “demand side” of the market for sex that is the driving force of the market.”

There are more than a dozen tactics in common use to decrease demand, including: stings, S.O.A.P. orders (Stay Out of Areas with Prostitution); fines, community service sentencing and “John Schools”, as well as publishing “Dear John” letters and similar public shaming tactics.

While the vast bulk of efforts to date have focused on apprehend and punish (and both remain important tools), few leading authorities see it as an effective long-term strategy for reducing or eliminating demand. As some experts put it, few jurisdictions will have the resources to be able to incarcerate their way to eradication.

This may be particularly important when it comes to underage sex trafficking, a market which is increasingly moving online and underground. The Department of Justice has found that 76% of transactions for commercial sex with under- age girls are already conducted online — a statistic which is set to increase in coming years.

The field comprehends that the current dual focus on supply reduction, and apprehend/punish are insufficient, but this understanding has yet to translate into widespread creation of demand-side social marketing and education campaigns. It is on this underserved area that this report focused.