Congress passes Mann Act, aimed at curbing sex trafficking

Congress passes the Mann Act, also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act, which was ostensibly aimed at keeping innocent girls from being lured into prostitution, but really offered a way to make a crime out of many kinds of consensual sexual activity.

The outrage over “white slavery” began with a commission appointed in 1907 to investigate the problem of immigrant prostitutes. Allegedly, women were brought to America for the purpose of being forced into sexual slavery; likewise, immigrant men were allegedly luring American girls into prostitution.

The Congressional committees that debated the Mann Act did not believe that a girl would ever choose to be a prostitute unless she was drugged and held hostage. The law made it illegal to "transport any woman or girl" across state lines "for any immoral purpose." In 1917, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of two married California men, Drew Caminetti and Maury Diggs, who had gone on a romantic weekend getaway with their girlfriends to Reno, Nevada, and had been arrested. Following this decision, the Mann Act was used in all types of cases: someone was charged with violating the Mann Act for bringing a woman from one state to another in order to work as a chorus girl in a theater; wives began using the Mann Act against girls who ran off with their husbands. The law was also used for racist purposes: Jack Johnson, heavyweight champion of the world, was prosecuted for bringing a prostitute from Pittsburgh to Chicago, but the motivation for his arrest was public outrage over his marriages to white women.

The most famous prosecutions under the law were those of Charlie Chaplin in 1944 and Chuck Berry in 1959 and 1961, who took unmarried women across state lines for “immoral purposes.” Berry was convicted and spent two years in the prime of his musical career in jail. After Berry’s conviction, the Mann Act was enforced only sparingly, but it was never repealed. It was amended in 1978 and again in 1986; most notably, the 1986 amendments replaced the phrase "any other immoral purpose" with "any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense."

READ MORE: America's Forgotten Mass Imprisonment of Women Believed to Be Sexually Immoral

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson was so good at boxing that he scared an entire generation of racists. White authorities chose to make an example of him with one of America’s most infamous laws.

Featured image: Jack Johnson posing with his wife Lucille. Despite the speech against miscegenation given by the prosecutor of his most famous legal case, Johnson was not convicted for dating or marrying a white woman, but for lending a small sum of money to his ex-girlfriend. (Image source)

Jack Johnson photographed early in his career. Even for a heavyweight boxer, Johnson’s physique was famously impressive in comparison to his competition. (Image source)

A photograph of the championship fight between Jack Johnson and Tommy Burns. (Image source)

Video of the fight between Johnson and Burns. The video cuts out before the end because police made the camera operators turn their machines off. (Image source)

Jack Johnson at the wheel of his 90 horsepower Thomas Flyer–an extremely fancy car at the time. Johnson had famously upscale tastes in cars and clothes. (Image source)

A small section of the crowd waiting for the Johnson-Jeffries fight. (Image source)

A photograph from the Johnson-Jeffries fight. (Image source)

A cartoon making fun of the extremely violent race riots that broke out in the aftermath of the Johnson–Jeffries fight. Although this appears to be depicting Black men attacking white victims, most of the actual casualties were Black people attacked by while mobs. (Image source)

Jack with his wife Etta in 1910. (Image source)

Jack Johnson in Buenos Aires in 1914. The most famous pictures of Johnson show him in boxing attire, but he was known for being well-dressed out of the ring. (Image source)

An infamous photograph of Johnson’s defeat in the Willard-Johnson fight. This image was spread as proof that Willard was the “great white hope” the boxing world had been waiting for to restore what racists believed was the natural order. (Image source)

Harry Allen

Meet Harry Allen, the sporty gentleman who scandalized Seattle by wooing ladies, biting cops, and making sure to give his side of the story to the press. Harry left an extraordinary legacy in the public record: He was a transgender man who talked directly to newspapers about his gender identity. But was he really the incorrigible hoodlum the papers made him out to be, or was he forced to the margins of society by police harassment?

Content notes: There is one transphobic quote at the beginning of the article, when we discuss the incorrect claims about transgender history in Abigail Shrier’s book. For all other quotes used in this episode, I’ve trimmed around names and pronouns to avoid misgendering Harry on air.

Featured image: Harry in his cowboy outfit. Harry usually wore tailored suits and fancy hats in town, but this particular photo was used by newspapers when they wanted to make him look like a tough brawler. (Image source)

A photograph of Harry Allen. I’m not sure when or why exactly this photo was taken. From the numbers in the corner I’m guessing this is a mug shot. (Image source)

A newspaper illustration of Harry disapproving of women’s hats. (Image source)

Legal application

Although the law was created to stop forced sexual slavery of women, the most common use of the Mann Act was to prosecute men for having sex with under-age females. [4] The phrase "immoral purpose" in the statute allowed an extremely broad application of the law following the United States Supreme Court ruling in Caminetti v. United States (1917), which held that "illicit fornication", even when consensual, constituted an "immoral purpose."

In addition to its stated purpose of preventing human trafficking, the law was used to prosecute unlawful pre-marital, extra-marital, and inter-racial relationships. The penalties would be applied to men whether or not the woman involved consented and, if she had consented, the woman could be considered an accessory to the offense. Some attribute enactment of the law to the case of world champion heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. [11] Johnson was known to be intimate with white women, some of whom he met at the fighting venue after his fights. The year the Mann Act of 1912 was enacted [ citation needed ] , he was prosecuted, and later convicted, for "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes" as a result of his relationship with a white prostitute named Belle Schreiber the month prior to the prosecution, Johnson had been charged with violating the Mann Act due to traveling with his Caucasian girlfriend, Lucille Cameron, who refused to cooperate with the prosecution and whom he married soon thereafter. [12]

The 1948 prosecution of Frank LaSalle for abducting Florence Sally Horner is believed to have been an inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov in writing his novel Lolita. [13] The Mann Act has also been used by the U.S. federal government to prosecute polygamists (such as Mormon fundamentalists [6] [14] ) because the U.S. has no federal law against polygamy. [14] All U.S. states have anti-polygamy laws, but only in recent [ when? ] years have state authorities used them to prosecute bigamy. Colorado City, Arizona Hildale, Utah Bountiful, British Columbia and sites in Mexico [8] are historic locations of several Mormon sects that practiced polygamy. [9] Sect leaders and individuals [14] have been charged under the Mann Act when "wives" are transported across the Utah–Arizona state line or the U.S.–Canadian and U.S.–Mexican borders. [10] [14]

Notable prosecutions under the Mann Act

Person Year Decision Notes
George Barker 1940 Charges dropped The British poet was arrested crossing a state border with his lover Canadian author Elizabeth Smart in 1940. She described the arrest in her book By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.
Chuck Berry 1962 Convicted In January 1962, Berry was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act when he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines. [15] [16] [17]
Kid Cann 1959 Convicted/
Acquitted on appeal
Cann, who was an organized crime figure from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was prosecuted and convicted for transporting a prostitute from Chicago to Minnesota. His conviction was later overturned on appeal. Cann was later prosecuted and convicted of offering a $25,000 bribe to a juror at his Mann Act trial. [ citation needed ]
Farley Drew Caminetti 1913 Convicted He and Maury I. Diggs took their mistresses from Sacramento, California to Reno, Nevada. Their wives informed the police, and both men were arrested in Reno. Caminetti v. United States expanded Mann Act prosecutions from prostitution to non-commercial extramarital sex. [18]
Charlie Chaplin 1944 Acquitted Chaplin met Joan Barry, age 24, in 1941. He signed her to a $75-a-week contract for a film he was putting together, and she became his mistress. By the summer of 1942, Chaplin let her contract expire. To send her home, Chaplin paid her train fare to New York which led to his arrest. [16] [19] Chaplin was acquitted of the charges.
Finis Dake 1937 Convicted In 1937, he was convicted of violating the Mann Act by wilfully transporting 16-year-old Emma Barelli across the Wisconsin state line "for the purpose of debauchery and other immoral practices". The May 27, 1936, issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that Dake registered at hotels in Waukegan, Bloomington, and East St. Louis with the girl under the name "Christian Anderson and wife". In order to avoid a jury trial and the possibility of being sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000, Dake pleaded guilty. Subsequently, he served six months in the House of Corrections in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [20]
Rex Ingram 1949 Convicted Pleading guilty to the charge of transporting a teenage girl to New York for immoral purposes, he was sentenced to eighteen months in jail. He served just ten months of his sentence, but the incident had a serious impact on his career for the next six years. [21]
Jack Johnson 1912 Convicted In October and November 1912, Johnson was arrested twice under the Mann Act. It is generally acknowledged that the arrests were racially motivated. A presidential pardon was requested in 2009. [16] [22]
Charles Manson 1960 Charges dropped Manson took two prostitutes from California to New Mexico to work. [23]
William I. Thomas 1918 Acquitted Pioneering sociologist William I. Thomas's academic career at the University of Chicago was irreversibly damaged after he was arrested under the act when caught in the company of one Mrs. Granger, the wife of an army officer with the American forces in France. Thomas was acquitted at trial. [24]
Frank Lloyd Wright 1926 Charges dropped In October 1926, Wright and Olga Lazovich Hinzenburg were accused of violating the Mann Act and he was arrested in Minnetonka, Minnesota. [16]
Tony Alamo 2008 Convicted The former American religious leader was arrested under the Mann Act in September 2008. [25] He was subsequently convicted on 10 counts of interstate transportation of minors for illegal sexual purposes, rape, sexual assault, and contributing to the delinquency of minors. [26] [27]
Brian David Mitchell 2010 Convicted Former street preacher and pedophile convicted in 2010 of interstate kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines in connection with the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart currently serving a life sentence in federal prison. [28]
Jack Schaap 2012 Convicted Pastor at mega-church First Baptist Church (Hammond, Indiana) and Chancellor of Hyles–Anderson College, pleaded guilty to transportation of a minor across state lines to have sex with a 16-year-old he was counseling. [29] [30] [31] He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. [32]

Notable individuals investigated under the Act

    , an American Islamist cleric, was investigated for violations of Mann Act, authorities primarily wanting to arrest him for his ties to the 9/11 hijackers, but left the United States for Yemen before he could be detained. [33] , a World War II Allied double agent with a "James Bond" lifestyle, was threatened with arrest under the Mann Act. [34]
  • Individuals associated with an Emperors Club VIP prostitution ring that had former Governor of New YorkEliot Spitzer as a client. [35]
  • Individuals associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) church, such as Warren Jeffs and Merril Jessop have refused to answer questions during depositions and court hearings, citing the 5th amendment, over concerns of self-incrimination related to "potential state investigation still ongoing, as well as criminal investigations under the Mann Act out of the U.S. Attorney's Office." [36]

Mann Act case decisions by the United States Supreme Court

  • Hoke v. United States, 227 U.S.308 (1913). The Court held that Congress could not regulate prostitution per se, as that was strictly the province of the states. Congress could, however, regulate interstate travel for purposes of prostitution or "immoral purposes".
  • Athanasaw v. United States, 227 U.S.326 (1913). The Court decided that the law was not limited strictly to prostitution, but to "debauchery" as well.
  • Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S.470 (1917). The Court decided that the Mann Act applied not strictly to purposes of prostitution, but to other noncommercial consensual sexual liaisons. Thus consensual extramarital sex falls within the genre of "immoral sex".
  • Gebardi v. United States, 287 U.S.112 (1932). The Court held that the statutory intent was not to punish a woman's acquiescence therefore, consent by the woman does not expose her to liability.
  • Cleveland v. United States, 329 U.S.14 (1946). The Court decided that a person can be prosecuted under the Mann Act even when married to the woman if the marriage is polygamous. Thus polygamous marriage was determined to be an "immoral purpose".
  • Bell v. United States, 349 U.S.81 (1955). The Supreme Court decided that simultaneous transportation of two women across state lines constituted only one violation of the Mann Act, not two violations.

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Congress passes Mann Act, aimed at curbing sex trafficking DA: 15 PA: 45 MOZ Rank: 60

Congress passes the Mann Act, also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act, which was ostensibly aimed at keeping innocent girls from being lured into prostitution, but really offered a …

The Mann Act Ken Burns Unforgivable Blackness: The DA: 11 PA: 42 MOZ Rank: 54

  • The Mann Act was born during the "white slavery" hysteria of the early 20th century
  • Along with other moral purity movements of the period, the white slavery craze had its roots in fears over the

Mann Act legal definition of Mann Act

  • Mann Act: The Mann Act (18 U.S.C.A
  • § 2421 et seq.), also known as the White Slave Traffic Act, is a federal criminal statute that deals with prostitution and Child Pornography
  • Enacted in 1910 and named for its sponsor, Representative james r
  • mann , of Illinois, it also was used to prosecute men who took women across state lines for

The ‘White Slavery’ Law That Brought Down Jack Johnson is DA: 15 PA: 46 MOZ Rank: 64

The Mann Act was designed to prevent human trafficking—but used to punish interracial relationships.

The Long, Colorful History of the Mann Act : NPR DA: 11 PA: 26 MOZ Rank: 41

  • The Mann Act, perhaps more than most laws, was clearly a product of its time
  • At the turn of the last century, the Industrial Revolution had taken hold and the old order of rural, largely male

Mann Act Wex US Law LII / Legal Information Institute DA: 19 PA: 13 MOZ Rank: 37

  • The Mann Act (also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910) is a federal law that criminalizes the transportation of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”
  • The Mann Act, passed in June 1910 and named after Illinois Congressman James R
  • Mann, invoked the Commerce Clause to felonize the use of interstate or foreign commerce

Mann Act United States [1910] Britannica DA: 18 PA: 15 MOZ Rank: 39

  • Other articles where Mann Act is discussed: prostitution: …until passage of the federal Mann Act (1910), which prohibited interstate transportation of women for “immoral purposes.” By 1915 nearly all states had passed laws that banned brothels or regulated the profits of prostitution
  • After World War II, prostitution remained prohibited in most Western countries, though it was

2027. Mann Act JM Department of Justice DA: 15 PA: 50 MOZ Rank: 72

  • Cases arising under the Mann Act, 18 U.S.C
  • § 2421 et seq., are investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and are referred directly to the appropriate United States Attorneys
  • The Child and Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division is responsible for supervision of the Act.

Federal Mann Act – Prostitution

  • The Mann Act is a federal statute that prohibits interstate or foreign transportation of an individual with the intention of engaging such individual in sexual activity or prostitution
  • The Mann Act is also known as the White Slave Traffic Act
  • The Act made it a felony to transport knowingly any person in interstate commerce or foreign commerce

The Mann Act New York Criminal Defense Lawyers Tilem

  • The Mann Act of 1910 also known as the “White Slavery Act” prohibits moving people between states to facilitate sex crimes
  • The elements of a Mann Act violation are as follows: 1) transporting a person between states with knowledge 2) Intent for the person to commit acts of prostitution, or other criminal sexual activity, or makes overt acts in furtherance of such conduct.

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What you need to know about the Matt Gaetz scandal DA: 11 PA: 50 MOZ Rank: 72

Gaetz could be charged under the Mann Act, which prohibits bringing anyone across state lines "with intent that such individual engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which any

The thought of them nailing Gaetz with the Mann Act makes

  • The Mann Act, perhaps more than most laws, was clearly a product of its time
  • At the turn of the last century, the Industrial Revolution had taken hold and the old order of rural, largely male-dominated America began to fade
  • New technologies, such as the typewriter, allowed many women to support themselves financially for the first time, and

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  • The Mann Act is a federal law passed in 1910 which makes it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose”

The Mann Act: The Protection of Women from Abusive Men

  • Mann Act and remained popular for years after the Act became law
  • George Kneeland, another anti-white slavery activist, published an exposé similar to Turner’s in 1913 called Commercialized Prostitution in New York City
  • In it he claimed that according to the results of recent

Remembering a Milestone in the Fight against Sexploitation

  • Mann pushed the White Slavery Traffic Act through Congress
  • More commonly called the “Mann Act,” Mann’s legislation has had a long, colorful, and controversial career
  • The purpose of the Mann Act is simple: it is a federal law that makes it a felony to engage in interstate (across state lines) or foreign

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  • 1910 - law enacted by Congress through its power to regulate interstate commerce, as a means of addressing the problem of prostitution and immorality
  • 1914 - Passed under Wilson declared certain business practices illegal such as …

Jack Johnson pardoned for violation of Mann Act in 1913 DA: 14 PA: 50 MOZ Rank: 81

The Mann Act's purpose was to stop human sex trafficking, but the broad language allowed for it to be used to prosecute men for premarital, extramarital and interracial relationships, even if

Crime History: Charlie Chaplin on trial for 'white slavery

Chaplin was charged with violating the 1910 White Slave Traffic Act, or the Mann Act, aimed at combatting forced prostitution and "debauchery." Barry testified that …

Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the Making of the FBI

  • The Mann Act, adopted by the US Congress in 1910, responded to a moral panic around the entrapment of women into prostitution
  • The Act, officially entitled the “White-slave traffic Act,” – James Mann was an Illinois congressman who headed the House committee in which the bill originated – prohibited the transportation of women across

Johnson's Arrest Ken Burns Unforgivable Blackness: The DA: 11 PA: 49 MOZ Rank: 80

The Mann Act case fell apart when it became clear that Cameron had been a prostitute before she left Milwaukee and had been in Chicago for more than three months before she'd first met Johnson.

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  • DOWNLOAD OPTIONS download 1 file Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and the DA: 14 PA: 49 MOZ Rank: 85

  • “The White-Slave Traffic Act, commonly known as the Mann Act, was passed in the United States in 1910 and made it a felony to transport any ‘woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose’ across state lines
  • It was designed to fight a perceived growth of prostitution, especially the

Sex Trafficking: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law DA: 7 PA: 24 MOZ Rank: 54

  • Mann Act outlaws sex trafficking activities that involve travel in interstate or foreign commerce
  • The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (Victims Justice Act P.L
  • 178) amended both � and the Mann Act
  • Section 1591 now provides in part the following: “Whoever knowingly in or affecting interstate

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Ginsburg wrote that the Mann Act (which punishes those who engage in interstate sex traffic of women and girls) is “offensive.” Such acts should be considered “within the zone of privacy.” (Page 98) She demanded that we “firmly reject draft or combat exemption for women,” stating “women must be subject to the draft if men are.”

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  • Significance of the Mann Act of 1925
  • Most theft offenses are committed by trained professionals who know what they are doinf and avoid detection (T or F) Legalization leads to massive expansion of the trade, both legal and illegal
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Mann Act – True / Crime / Discourse

  • Tag: Mann Act What is the Mann Act, exactly? Earlier this week I included some references to the 1910 Mann Act (aka White Slave Traffic Act), so I thought it made sense to close the week with a quick review of that Act
  • The term “white slavery” became prominent in the English language in the 19th century, and it was used by British and …

Federalism, the Mann Act, and the Imperative to

The Mann Act of 1910 makes it a felony knowingly to transport women or girls in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution, debauchery, or any other immoral purpose.' A 1986 amendment deleted "debauchery" and "immoral purpose" and substituted "any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense."

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  • The Mann Act’s Commerce Clause-driven focus on interstate travel brought incongruous results
  • “A village Don Juan may misbehave with all the willing dames in his parish, and then scatter his seed in every other county in the State, with no other punishment than the remorse of contraband pleasure,” the American Mercury noted.

The Beatification of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ginsburg wrote that the Mann Act (which punishes those who engage in interstate sex traffic of women and girls) is "offensive." Such acts should be considered "within the zone of …

Why laws to fight sex trafficking often backfire

  • The Mann Act ended up targeting sex work under the guise of preventing sex trafficking
  • According to Justice Department statistics, during the first four years the Mann Act was in existence, 71

Remembering The Mann Act or, How Prostitution Killed The DA: 10 PA: 43 MOZ Rank: 84

  • The Mann Act was the real beginning of the Bureau of Investigation (later, the F.B.I.), which then used Prohibition to extend its power
  • The bureau secured five thousand Mann Act

What is the Mann Act and is It Still Used by Law Enforcement

But just what is the Mann Act, and why is it still making headlines? One NPR article broke down the history of the Mann Act (originally entitled the "White Slave Traffic" Act), noting the Act was "designed to combat forced prostitution." The text of the Mann Act as it was written back in 1910 was very broad, making it a crime for:

Jack Johnson Was Pardoned, But Taboo Sex Is Still Being Criminalized

President Donald Trump posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson on Thursday, erasing the black boxer’s century-old conviction for violating the Mann Act — a 1910 law that prohibited transporting “ any woman or girl” across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose” — by driving his white girlfriend from Pittsburgh to Chicago.

The timing of Trump’s decision was remarkable. Two months ago, Trump signed into law the bipartisan Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which holds websites accountable for any sex-trafficking-related content posted by users. Its backers pitched it as a way to combat human trafficking. But like the Mann Act, FOSTA targets some of the people it ostensibly aims to protect: It has already shuttered many of the websites that voluntary sex workers — those who are not trafficked — used to screen clients and keep themselves safe .

Although drafted and signed more than a century apart, both laws are part of the United States’ long history of citing human trafficking as a pretext to crack down on consensual but taboo sex.

All this has happened before

The Mann Act, also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act, was enacted in response to public hysteria about sensational yet unconfirmed reports of white women being kidnapped and trafficked by foreign men.

“There’s a huge range of things that [the act] allowed the government to punish and control,” Alexandra Levy, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, told HuffPost. “It gave tremendous leverage to punish interracial marriage, polygamy and promiscuity.”

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, thousands of people were prosecuted under the act. Johnson’s conviction in 1912 was a prime example of the broad power of a law pitched as a way to stop what was at the time called white slavery. His crime was, essentially, being black and driving across state lines with a white woman, even though she went voluntarily and was his girlfriend.

Seven years after the Mann Act passed, federal officials instituted the American Plan to protect U.S. servicemen from acquiring sexually transmitted diseases before they took off to fight in World War I. The initiative allowed for the detention of women suspected of having a venereal disease. It was celebrated across the political spectrum for keeping American troops safe and for “curing” thousands of women of sexually transmitted infections ― though those “cures” often meant arsenic- and mercury-based medicines and involuntary sterilization .

Just like the Mann Act, the plan took aim at some of the most vulnerable, like Nina McCall, a young poor white woman from Michigan who was arrested in 1918 under suspicion of being a prostitute. After her arrest, she was forcefully examined and medicated, then detained in a federal medical institution for three months. In Michigan alone, more than a thousand women were detained under the plan by 1918.

The Mann Act and the American Plan were swift responses to changes in American culture and the seemingly sudden rights and privileges granted women, said Scott W. Stern, who recently published a book about the McCall case.

“In the early and late 1910s, women were getting the vote in various states, women were beginning to get formally educated, women were joining political parties, and premarital sex was skyrocketing, as was divorce,” he said. “Both the Mann Act and the American Plan were really about controlling women, and especially working-class and nonwhite women at a time when women were becoming ‘uncontrollable.’”

“The Mann Act today is most famous because of the prosecutions of certain very prominent men, like Charlie Chaplin, Chuck Berry and Jack Johnson,” Stern continued. “Certainly those are notable cases, but what I think far too few people know is that the Mann Act was used to lock up huge amounts of women and police their lives.”

The first people arrested by officers of the Investigation Bureau — the Justice Department agency that would later become the FBI — for violating the Mann Act were a madam and five sex workers traveling together from Michigan to Chicago, Stern noted.

So while the Mann Act and the American Plan were ostensibly aimed at saving vulnerable women, in practice the initiatives allowed the Justice Department to control them, their sexuality, and the men they associated with ― many of whom were black or Chinese .

A Pattern Repeated, Again and Again

Measures like the Mann Act and the American Plan set the stage for legislation like FOSTA.

The law aimed to curb human trafficking by holding websites and social platforms accountable for hosting content related to the sex trade. But much like the Mann Act and the American Plan, it polices members of already marginalized communities.

The new regulations pushed sites like Craigslist and Backpage to scrub their platforms of not only sex-trafficking-related content but sex-related content in general. That meant that not just sex traffickers but also voluntary sex workers and people who engage in online sexual activities were forced further underground .

Melissa, a Phoenix-based escort, told HuffPost that FOSTA forced her back onto the streets. Lexi, a Florida-based escort, said she couldn’t screen her clients anymore without access to the sites.

Sex workers are often already members of marginalized communities, lacking easy access to banking and health care and safety from sexual or physical violence.

“It’s an important parallel,” Levy said.

The Mann Act and FOSTA used similar tactics to pass with overwhelming majorities. The Mann Act was passed unanimously, Stern said. The House and Senate versions of FOSTA passed almost unanimously.

The Mann Act was written in response to accounts of enslavement of white women. Similarly, FOSTA used hysterical anti-trafficking rhetoric — often provided by evangelical Christian organizations that oppose all sex work — to garner support from the public.

“The public is so easily manipulated when you say ‘trafficking,’” Levy said. “It’s a very emotionally provocative issue. You can sort of leverage that term.” In both cases, the public was galvanized by terrifying (and misleading) anecdotes of sex-trafficked children or white women, only for the legislation to be used against marginalized people after it was signed into law.

Trump’s decision to pardon Johnson shows progress. But Johnson’s story also offers an important lesson, Levy argued.

“It should call our attention to the fact that laws that purport to be anti-trafficking can mask very serious social agendas,” she said. “Hopefully we can learn from this.”

Mann Act

The White-Slave Traffic Act, also called the Mann Act, is a United States federal law, passed June 25, 1910 (ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825 codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421–2424). It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann of Illinois.

In its original form the act made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking, particularly where trafficking was for the purposes of prostitution. It was one of several acts of protective legislation aimed at moral reform during the Progressive Era. In practice, its ambiguous language about "immorality" resulted in it being used to criminalize even consensual sexual behavior between adults. [1] It was amended by Congress in 1978 and again in 1986 to limit its application to transport for the purpose of prostitution or other illegal sexual acts. [2] [ irrelevant citation ]

Sex Workers of the World United

On a cool, slightly breezy January day in San Francisco, several hundred female sex workers assembled and began to march. Decked out in colorful clothes, some wearing elaborate hats, the women trooped through the city’s Upper Tenderloin neighborhood, past a pair of police officers, and into Central Methodist Church, at the corner of O’Farrell and Leavenworth streets. Some of the women were old, some were young some were white, many were not. All of these sex workers were in Central Methodist that day to confront the Reverend Paul Smith, who had been crusading for a police crackdown on prostitution. Once the women had settled into the pews, a locally famous madam known as Mrs. R. M. “Reggie” Gamble rose and began to speak.

Gamble addressed herself directly to Smith: “I want to ask first, how many of the women in your church would accept us into their homes—even to work? You would cast us out—where to?” She continued in her deep, sonorous voice: “Every woman here has at least one child. We are against street walking … as well as you. But what are you going to do about it? … I am a mother of a girl of 14. Another girl in my house is the mother of four. She was sick. She wrote to her brother, a Methodist preacher, for help. He answered, ‘trust in the Lord.’ ”

All eyes turned to the reverend. He began posing questions to the assembled women. “How many of you are in this life because you could not make enough to live on?” he asked. All hands went up. Yet it clearly wasn’t just poverty that led women to sell sex. How many would rather do housework? Smith asked. His question was met with a roar of laughter. One woman shouted back, “What woman wants to work in a kitchen?”

One day last June, in New York City’s Washington Square Park, this scene largely repeated itself, except that unlike the temperate conditions of a Bay Area winter, it was a blistering 90 degrees. Hundreds of sex workers and their allies gathered to protest the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work. They wore colorful clothes and held red umbrellas and evocative signs. “Criminalization Kills!” read one. “The Only Good Cop Is A Stripper Cop,” read another.

The sex workers—mostly women, but also many men—began to march. They made their way around the park to its iconic marble arch. As they walked, they began to chant in unison: “Sex workers, survivors, united.” The marchers gathered in a circle as members of the crowd moved forward to give speeches. They decried recently enacted laws that would make it harder for them to coordinate the sale of sex from the safety of their homes. They spoke against police violence. After 90 minutes, the crowd began to disperse. “People hugged and in many cases wiped away tears,” journalist Zoë Beery reported in The Outline.

Those two demonstrations took place more than a century apart. The San Francisco march happened in 1917. The parallels between the two, however, are striking. Both were female led, both featured a diverse array of prostitutes and other sex workers, both took place in metropolises famed for winking tolerance and brutal repression—and both demonstrations were in response to specific policies that had been proposed in the name of helping sex workers.

In San Francisco in 1917, Reverend Smith insisted that shuttering brothels and locking prostitutes away in a “state industrial farm” would be for their own good it would make them safer and less vulnerable to exploitation. “I am not in a crusade against you women or commercialized vice in San Francisco,” he told the throng of sex workers in his church. “No person in the world has more sympathy for you girls than I have. The problem of commercialized vice is a man problem. Men are making the money out of it.”

In New York, the demonstrators were gathered for International Whores’ Day (also known as International Sex Workers Day), which is observed annually. But they were also rallying against the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (sesta) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (fosta). These bills, which passed Congress in a combined form nearly unanimously in March 2018, were written with the express intention of shutting down websites through which people sell sex online. SESTA/FOSTA, like Smith’s campaign in San Francisco, had been proposed in the name of protecting sex workers, especially women, from trafficking and abuse.

“We are bringing a bill to the House floor that will protect the fundamental rights of victims of sex trafficking,” declared Republican Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri, in proposing FOSTA. “Online trafficking is flourishing because there are no serious, legal consequences for the websites that profit from the exploitation of our most vulnerable.” Previously, websites on which sex workers advertised their services were immune from prosecution because platforms were not held responsible for the actions of individual users. Now they could face criminal penalties. President Donald Trump signed SESTA/FOSTA into law last April, to bipartisan fanfare.

Financier Jeffrey Epstein (left) and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft were charged with solicitation, and were both offered plea deals. (Archive PL/Alamy Image Press Agency/Alamy)

Sex trafficking, the illegal transport of people for the purpose of sexual exploitation, is often conflated with sex work, the consensual sale of sex by adults. Except in roughly a dozen rural counties in Nevada, prostitution is illegal in the United States, and separate laws forbid human trafficking. But laws against prostitution often make no distinction between consensual sex workers and trafficked ones and are instead designed to maximize arrests and prosecutions—meaning that many trafficking victims are arrested and prosecuted while the men who solicit sex are let off the hook. The lenient plea deals offered to billionaire and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, as well as financier Jeffrey Epstein, are just two recent examples. Meanwhile, sex trafficking survivors who try to protect themselves, like Cyntoia Brown—convicted of murdering a man who had solicited her for sex in 2004—can be sentenced to life in prison. (Brown’s sentence was later commuted, and she is scheduled for release in August.)

Trafficking is real and horrifying. But criminalizing sex work or forcing sex workers onto the streets and under the thumb of male pimps only makes things worse. Trafficking survivors are likelier to go to the authorities if they won’t be thrown in prison—or deported—as a result. And after they’ve escaped their traffickers, survivors have a much easier time establishing a normal life—with safe housing, education, and legal employment—if they have no criminal record.

The way to prevent trafficking is to listen to the demands that sex workers have been making for generations. As trafficking survivor Laura LeMoon has written, “In truth, there is no simple answer to trafficking, which often occurs at the intersection of systemic, interlocking inequalities such as poverty, racism, sexism, and transphobia.” Changing these structural conditions would be a means to ending trafficking, she writes. “Attempting to abolish the sex industry will not stop sex trafficking.”

A century of American history bears out that argument. The new policies in 1917 and 2018 did not protect sex workers or reduce trafficking. Despite the intentions of their creators, both policies ended up making the lives of sex workers more dangerous by pushing them out into the streets—and into the hands of pimps who may turn consensual sex work into coerced sexual exploitation, or traffic them.

The effects of the 1917 policy are clear. Just days after Smith was confronted in his church, the city of San Francisco established a “morals squad” (headed by an ambitious former professional boxer), which was empowered to raid brothels and arrest their occupants. Within a week, practically every brothel in the Upper Tenderloin had gone under a week later, dozens of policemen raided the city’s other red-light district, known as the Barbary Coast. Every prostitute was given an hour to “pack up and get out.” Male onlookers gathered to watch the women drag suitcases down the street. More than a thousand women lost their homes that night. Reporters later wrote that one question was heard repeatedly: “But where are we goin’ ?”

Prostitution did not disappear from San Francisco. Instead, women who sold sex were simply driven from the brothels and onto the streets. Whereas once they had enjoyed the relative safety and protection of the brothel walls, now they had to work in alleys and on street corners whereas once female madams had controlled much of the sex trade in the city, now male pimps began taking over. As historian Ruth Rosen has written, prostitutes “became the easy targets of both pimps and organized crime. In both cases, the physical violence faced by prostitutes rapidly increased.” Contrary to Smith’s intentions, more men were making more money than ever from prostitution.

The same dynamic repeated itself in the aftermath of SESTA/FOSTA. Within days of the Senate vote, Craigslist shuttered its “Personals” section. Many websites, including Backpage—a popular site through which sex workers could safely screen potential customers—closed down, either preemptively or by federal order. Once again, sex workers were driven onto the streets—indisputably a more dangerous place to work—and prostitutes were subjected to violent johns who could not be screened, as well as to the police, who have been known to abuse or assault sex workers in addition to arresting them. One survey of sex workers in Alaska found that 26 percent of respondents had been sexually assaulted by the police another survey from New York found that 14 percent had experienced police violence.

“I’ve had to carry around mace and a taser now, which I don’t want to [do],” one long-time escort told The Outline. “But guys honestly could choke me I could be robbed by other women or by pimps. It’s [the] wild wild west out here, and it’s really endangering our lives.”

“Community members have died due to this legislation, many people have lost access to the majority of their income and don’t know how they will pay rent,” community organizer Danielle Blunt told Gizmodo in June. “The effect of these bills is vast and devastating.”

As Motherboard’s Samantha Cole reported just weeks after SESTA/FOSTA’s passage, “former pimp[s] are swooping back into sex workers’ lives. They’re capitalizing on the confusion and fear this law has created, as online communities where sex workers found and vetted clients and offered each other support are disappearing. What are you going to do without me, now? exploiters say, flooding former victims’ inboxes and texts. You need me. According to sex workers I’ve spoken with, this is a common message.” Slate, Rolling Stone, the Detroit Metro Times, and The Nation have confirmed such reports.

Despite being billed as transformative by its proponents, SESTA/FOSTA has a long, tired history. It is the product of decades of repressive American laws and policies that were framed as protection but instead caused harm. It is also the product of the centuries-old belief that sex workers should not play a role in shaping the policies that govern their lives. If instead policymakers listened to sex workers, they might understand how ineffective their tactics are. If those who work in the sex trade had a seat at the table—if their voices and experience and wisdom were respected—bipartisan disasters such as SESTA/FOSTA might be averted.

“We want to be let alone,” one woman had yelled at Smith a century ago. “What ship are you going to send us away on?” shouted another. The day after the march in San Francisco, Gamble had an opinion piece published in the San Francisco Chronicle, begging the city fathers to heed her warning. “Remove prejudice from those whose attitude is one of ‘holier than thou,’ ” she wrote. “We have had our experience with liquor, with vice from time immemorial. Nothing dies. Vice does not die any more than another concrete entity. Seek for a better tomorrow. Seek without prejudice to provide against future growth, not to strive blindly to eradicate something of today which conditions and environment have created.”

The authorities didn’t listen.

Sex workers have argued against criminalization of the industry for more than a century, as this 1917 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle shows.

For much of American history, prostitution was a relatively safe and prosperous female-led industry. In the 19th century, as America expanded westward with the brutal rapidity of Manifest Destiny, boomtowns sprang up across the West. Since the populations in these towns were often majority male (most of them unmarried), brothels blossomed like prairie flowers. With limited supply and desperate demand, women could exercise some control over the prices they charged, and 19th-century prostitutes earned significantly more money than any other kind of female laborer.

The sex trade in the West was dominated by brothels, often lavishly decorated, where prostitutes lived and worked. Protected from the elements and from many forms of harassment, workers in brothels were generally both safer and better paid than those working on the streets, historians have found. The madams who often ran these establishments thus controlled much of the sex trade. Thaddeus Russell has described how certain madams became American icons, like Jennie Rogers, the Queen of the Colorado Underworld, who brought in personal hairstylists and dressmakers for her “girls,” and Mary Ellen “Mammy” Pleasant, who was born a slave but rose to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in San Francisco.

And, as Russell pointed out, it wasn’t only madams but also the prostitutes themselves who profited from the sex trade. George M. Blackburn and Sherman L. Ricards noted in their study of mid-19th-century Virginia City, Nevada, that prostitutes “amass[ed] more wealth than most of their customers.” Paula Petrik examined the same period in Helena, Montana, and found that about 60 percent of the city’s white prostitutes “reported either personal wealth or property or both.” They were rarely arrested, and proprietor prostitutes made nearly half of all real estate transactions undertaken by women.

Though authorities in the West periodically cracked down on prostitution, they usually chose to let the brothels operate as they pleased—often in exchange for handsome kickbacks. Officials in San Francisco even opened their own “municipal brothel” in the wake of the devastating 1906 earthquake half of the profits earned by its 133 prostitutes went straight to the city treasury.

Back east, major cities had well-known red-light districts—supposedly named for the red lanterns hung outside brothels. In New York, this district was known as the Tenderloin in Chicago, it was the Levee in New Orleans, it was the infamous Storyville, mythical birthplace of jazz. As historian Neil Larry Shumsky has written, these red-light districts thrived on “tacit acceptance,” based on a simple logic: since prostitution was so difficult to eradicate, it could be tolerated as long as it was kept apart from so-called respectable citizens. (The irony, which some madams delighted in pointing out, was that so many “respectable” men visited their brothels under cover of darkness.)

Timothy Gilfoyle has written about “an affluent, but migratory, class of prostitutes” thriving in 19th-century New York. “In a world of imperfect choices, these women did not view prostitution as deviance or sin,” he writes. “Rather, they considered it a better alternative to the factory or domestic servitude.”

But 19th-century prostitution should not be romanticized, and red-light districts were not utopias. Many women were exploited and abused—sometimes by male pimps, sometimes by clients, sometimes by police, and sometimes by the madams themselves. Further, as Rebecca Yamin has documented in “Wealthy, Free, and Female,” her innovative archaeological study of a 19th-century New York brothel, many prostitutes “may have looked wealthy [and] free … from the outside, but an inside perspective suggests their lives were considerably more complex.” Prostitutes used jewelry and fine clothes to attract bourgeois clientele, but many lived no better than “their sisters in the tenements.” And as was true in many other professions, white prostitutes indisputably made more money and endured less official abuse than nonwhite prostitutes.

Still, it is hard to examine even cursorily 19th- and early-20th-century prostitution and not conclude that it was often a profitable vocation that operated largely in the open. “When I look closely at the life stories of poor women during the early years of this century,” wrote Ruth Rosen at the beginning of The Lost Sisterhood, her masterly study of American prostitution, “I am struck again and again by most prostitutes’ view of their work as ‘easier’ and less oppressive than other survival strategies they might have chosen.”

Such relative tolerance began to change around the turn of the 20th century. First in England and then in the United States, a powerful movement of religious activists and elite women united to oppose what they called “white slavery.” The term, which was said to have been coined by Victor Hugo, distinguished between the “slavery of black women,” which had been “abolished in America,” and the “slavery of white women [that] continues in Europe,” according to a pamphlet from 1902. Tales of virginal young white women kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery—sensationalized, and in many cases demonstrably false—were read by hundreds of thousands in England, and activists seized on public anger to demand an end to the tacit acceptance of prostitution.

The battle soon spread to the United States. Prominent men and women invoked the fiery religious language of the crusade against white slavery and demanded that all brothels be destroyed. In Los Angeles, for instance, hundreds of church workers marched into the red-light district, trying to “rescue” prostitutes from white slavery and preparing churchgoers for the “Battle of Armageddon.” In 1909, a minister named Sidney C. Kendall led his riled-up followers to help initiate a recall election against Los Angeles mayor Arthur Harper, who, along with some of his police commissioners, was accused of selling worthless stock shares to brothels in exchange for protection (alongside a string of other industry-enriching privatization schemes). The mayor resigned before the recall vote could take place, and his successor, George Alexander, promised to “rid the city of prostitution.” Immediately, the police began raiding brothels and forcing their residents into the street. The city council passed an ordinance making it “unlawful for any woman to offer her body for the purpose of prostitution.”

Such closures did not end prostitution, however. According to Los Angeles policewoman Aletha Gilbert, the prostitutes in Los Angeles simply scattered into “every part of town.” Likewise, in England, the white slavery crusade led to the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment, designed to protect women from trafficking and exploitation. The law enabled the police to search brothels on a whim and made street solicitation a serious crime. Promoted as a way to protect women, it ended up being a cudgel that allowed state authorities to criminalize, stigmatize, and lock up thousands upon thousands of marginalized women.

In 1910, Congress passed the White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act, which made it a federal crime to transport a woman across state lines for “prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.” The Mann Act’s advocates insisted it would cripple the white slave trade in reality, it allowed officials to intensify their campaign against brothels and street soliciting. The first arrests made under the Mann Act were a madam and “five apparently perfectly willing prostitutes” traveling from Chicago to Michigan. Women suspected of aiding in the trafficking—or of being trafficked—could be locked up. “The Mann Act had been passed to protect women,” historian Jessica R. Pliley has observed, “yet women increasingly came under its purview. … Even women who were deemed to be victims in white slave investigations faced incarceration.” This fit with the never-ending pattern: the women who sold sex were locked up, while the men who purchased it often got off scot-free. (The Mann Act has also been used to target racial and political minorities, like African-American boxing champion Jack Johnson—posthumously pardoned only last year—and Charlie Chaplin, accused of being a Communist.)

The fight against white slavery was ostensibly a fight against sex trafficking, and although modern historians agree that some forced prostitution existed during these years, the amount was greatly exaggerated by anti-prostitution crusaders. Furthermore, no evidence suggests that in the wake of these laws, trafficking went down. Part of the difficulty of studying trafficking in the early 20th century is the lack of reliable estimates of how many people were actually trafficked, since the crime was always conflated with sex work. But based on primary sources and attention to context, most historians agree that tales of trafficking were hugely exaggerated, and that the reports of vice commissions were overblown.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries also witnessed the rise and consolidation of urban “machine” politics, which led to more male control over the sex trade. Political bosses, sometimes with ties to organized crime, consolidated power over prostitution in many cities, with underlings exploiting any commonalities of language or national origin they shared with women who were new to the United States or else excluded from the mainstream labor market. This, in turn, led those campaigning against white slavery to likewise decry the “vice trust,” or otherwise invoke the specter of some ethnic political boss controlling the traffic in white women. The white slavery crusade thus reflected racist and anti-immigrant sentiments and, frequently, a bitter anti-Semitism (“It is an absolute fact that corrupt Jews are now the backbone of the loathsome traffic,” declared McClure’s magazine in 1909).

Finally, the fight against white slavery, and the concomitant crusade against prostitution, reflected a fear of sexually active young women. The turn of the 20th century was a time when more women were becoming formally educated and beginning to demand the vote and a political voice. Rates of premarital sex and divorce were rising steadily. The fight against female-run prostitution was one aspect of the patriarchy striking back.

The American entrance into World War I in 1917 provided the impetus for the expansion of isolated municipal campaigns against brothels. But as in Los Angeles a decade earlier, this crackdown did not eliminate prostitution. “In most cases,” Rosen writes, “thousands of prostitutes simply left town and went to another city where the local vice district remained open.”

In the name of protecting soldiers and sailors from prostitutes, the War Department demanded that hundreds of cities shutter their brothels and crack down on prostitution—which hundreds did. Federal agents, state police, and local officials began combing the streets, looking for women, some newly expelled from brothels, who were trying to feed and clothe themselves by selling sex. By the end of the war, tens of thousands of women had been locked up for practicing prostitution—or for having sexually transmitted infections, or for simply being promiscuous. The American Plan, as this crackdown was later known, was in effect about controlling female sexuality.

After the war, dozens of cities across the country continued to detain and examine women by the thousands. The Great Depression broke the policing fever, to some extent, as many cities ran out of funds with which to imprison so many women. Prostitution was tacitly accepted again, and some brothels returned. However, male pimps had gained power during the previous two decades, and men now dominated much of the sex trade.

Yet even as policing diminished in the United States, calls for the suppression of trafficking continued. The newly formed League of Nations dedicated itself to combating forced prostitution and in 1921 established an Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Women and Children the term “traffic” had largely replaced “white slavery.” But in 1923, the American delegate to this committee, Grace Abbott, suggested that it examine the true extent of forced prostitution: “Do we really know that the traffic exists at all?” At her suggestion, the committee created a Special Body of Experts—staffed by American anti-prostitution advocates—to travel the globe, investigating trafficking in 112 cities and districts, in 28 countries. The subsequent 1927 report was vague about the extent of actual coercion, but it was unequivocal on the general matter of prostitution—unsurprising, given that its authors had been instrumental in the American Plan. “Prostitution should be regarded as a public evil to be kept within the narrowest possible limits,” it read. “Safeguards of all kinds against international traffic are difficult to enforce when the lowering of the standard of morality serves to create an insistent demand.”

The report, despite its somewhat unreliable trafficking data, had tangible effects on policy: at the advisory committee’s suggestion, some countries began arresting women suspected of selling sex. In Cuba, for instance, after investigators from the advisory committee visited, the local police shut down more than 200 brothels and jailed hundreds of women. Hundreds more left the island when they could no longer make a living there.

Two decades later, America’s entrance into World War II prompted a repeat of the previous war’s invasive policing. Once again, tens of thousands of sexually active women—some of them prostitutes, many of them simply suspected of extramarital sex or infected with syphilis or gonorrhea—spent time behind bars. In the postwar years, prominent Americans, including veterans of the wartime campaigns to lock up women, again partnered with international organizations (this time the United Nations and World Health Organization) to draft a new Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. This convention, approved in 1949 and enacted in 1951, demands that signatories punish anyone who “[p]rocures, entices or leads away, for purposes of prostitution, another person, even with the consent of that person” or “[e]xploits the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person.” It remains in force, with more than 80 parties to the convention.

Women suspected of prostitution are rounded up in Chicago, c. 1955. Invasive policing had begun again following America’s entrance into World War II. (Kim Vintage Stock/Alamy)

The postwar period also marked the dawn of the sexual revolution. The celebrated studies of Alfred Kinsey revealed that some 70 percent of American men had slept with a sex worker. In 1960, birth control pills became available in 1964, activists held a “speak-out” at Columbia University, arguing for the legalization of prostitution in 1967, a sex worker in a mask testified before the Kansas legislature, opposing a bill that would outlaw prostitution. All throughout the 1960s, sex workers took part in uprisings against violent policing, such as those at Stonewall and Compton’s Cafeteria sex workers of color and transgender sex workers played especially vital roles. Meanwhile, the women’s liberation movement and the nascent gay rights movement publicly demanded recognition of fundamental rights to social and legal equality.

The sexual revolution profoundly altered the status quo of policing and sex work in the United States. Many states halted decades-long enforcement of laws that allowed authorities to detain, examine, and incarcerate “promiscuous” women. Other states, such as New York, debated decriminalization. One observer in New York pointed out that in the late 1960s, “of the total prostitution and patronizing convictions, less than one percent were for patronizing”—that is, the purchase of sex by men.

In the 1970s, former sex workers themselves formed organizations to advocate for decriminalization and for greater economic and civil rights. One such organization, Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (coyote), successfully (albeit temporarily) halted enforcement of many laws against prostitution in San Francisco, and other sex workers rights’ groups spread across the country and around the world. By the mid-1970s, many public opinion polls showed broad popular support for legalization or decriminalization.

But then, as before, the backlash came. The election of President Ronald Reagan and the rise of the religious right killed much of the momentum for decriminalization. Cuts to welfare and antipoverty programs led greater numbers of women to begin selling sex. And increasing awareness of the hiv/aids epidemic led to new fears surrounding sex and promiscuity. A fresh spate of laws allowing authorities to scrutinize and criminalize sexual conduct passed in dozens of states. Many of these laws were specifically directed at sex workers, who were thought to indiscriminately (or even maliciously) spread infection. Scientific studies in the late 1980s proved that female sex workers were not a major vector in the spread of infection, but such laws remain on the books to this day.

That history leads us back to SESTA/FOSTA. Authorities argue that this law is about preventing trafficking, as would-be reformers have asserted for more than a century. In reality, the issue of trafficking is often brought up by those who want to harass sex workers. And as we have seen, the repression of safer means of sex work has led to greater danger and more male control. More control in the hands of pimps has, historically, led to more trafficking. The government’s repeated criminalization efforts over the past century have hardly resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking—often, the opposite.

SESTA/FOSTA is a predictable extension of laws already on the books outlawing prostitution of stereotypes and stigma that inaccurately depict sex workers as purveyors of crime and infection of policing that harasses (and sometimes abuses) sex workers while letting off their clients with a warning and a wink. Above all, SESTA/FOSTA exists because members of Congress refused to let sex workers drive conversations about how sex work should be regulated—just as the legislatures and international bodies of the past did not.

It is worth noting that today, unaids, the World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International all advocate the decriminalization of sex work. More important, peer-led sex workers organizations across the world do so as well. In 2013, for example, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects issued its Consensus Statement on Sex Work, Human Rights, and the Law, arguing for the right to associate and organize, the right to be protected by the law, the right to be free from violence and discrimination, the right to privacy and freedom from arbitrary interference, the right to health, the right to move and migrate, and the right to work and choose one’s employment.

Full decriminalization is different from legalization. Many popular examples of “legal” prostitution—as found in Germany, Amsterdam, Portugal, or Nevada—are systems that limit control by sex workers and vest authority in the hands of the state or exploitative men. In Nevada, for instance, where prostitution has been legal in some of the state’s counties since the 1970s, the sex trade is regulated in a punitive and counterproductive way. Prostitutes cannot legally work outside brothels—meaning they can’t operate independently—which forces them to labor under the control of brothel managers (often men). Brothel prostitutes often cannot choose their own doctors for routine STI screenings or, indeed, many of the conditions under which they labor, and they do not receive insurance or benefits from their employers because they are officially classified as independent contractors. Because of these regulations, most prostitution in Nevada occurs outside brothels—and thus illegally.

Allowing sex workers to control the conditions of their work—that is, to operate brothels themselves, choose their physicians, provide and receive benefits, and work outside brothels if they so choose—would be a step toward improving their lives. Authorities should consider the examples of the 20th century, as well as modern San Francisco, where in 1999 sex workers opened their own clinic to provide health care, education, and aid for current and former sex workers and their families. This clinic, the St. James Infirmary, remains open to this day. Another way to prevent trafficking is to eliminate the structural conditions under which it thrives by giving women greater access to sex education (and sex-positive education, which doesn’t stigmatize pleasure or overlook consent), reforming police practices, and boosting systems of financial and social support for marginalized women. Sex education can empower women and also make them more aware of exploitative and dangerous behaviors giving police less power over the lives of sex workers can diminish abuse and predatory quid pro quos fighting poverty and stigma can address the conditions under which trafficking thrives.

The country that has come the closest to an ideal system, in my eyes, is New Zealand. In the early 2000s, New Zealand’s legislature considered the Prostitution Reform Act, which legalized voluntary prostitution and recognized contracts between sex workers and their clients. After contentious debate, the legislature passed the bill in 2003 by a single vote. The lobbying of sex workers themselves, including the advocacy of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective and Labour MP Georgina Beyer (a trans former sex worker), was critical to the bill’s passage.

In New Zealand, sex workers control their own working conditions: individuals can sell sex inside or outside brothels, on the streets, inside their homes, or with associates. Sex work is regulated like other businesses and subject to occupational safety and health regulations—but police involvement is relatively minimal. Sex workers have an absolute right to decline clients without providing a reason. Human trafficking is illegal, and those requiring a visa cannot legally travel to New Zealand to work in the industry.

The New Zealand model is not perfect, and sex work remains stigmatized and sometimes unsafe. Sex workers can face restrictions on advertising their services, and abuse by authorities remains a real concern. Nonetheless, it may indicate a path forward. Perhaps unique among legislatures in the modern world, the New Zealand parliament heard the voices of sex workers and heeded their calls as it was considering a new model of sex work.

American legislators would do well to study the outcomes of New Zealand’s decriminalization. Five years after the act was passed, a government review committee found that “the sex industry has not increased in size … and the Committee is confident that the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off under the [Prostitution Reform Act] than they were previously.” Retrospective studies indicate that prostitution by those younger than 18 (which the act prohibited) has not increased. Between April 2017 and March 2018, the New Zealand government prosecuted three defendants for sex trafficking. By comparison, in fiscal year 2018, the FBI prosecuted 467 defendants.

Since SESTA/FOSTA became the law of the land, sex workers have reported that demand for their services has not changed—and that street-based sex work has increased. The legislation “has suddenly re-empowered this whole underclass of pimps and exploiters,” Pike Long, deputy director of the St. James Infirmary, told a San Francisco news station in February. As Savannah Sly, with the Sex Workers Outreach Project, testified to the Washington state Senate Labor & Commerce Committee in March, “What we’re seeing is an uptick in violence across the sex trade since the passing of these bills.”

Already, more than 20 individuals and organizations have come together under the umbrella of Decrim NY, a sex worker–led coalition pushing for decriminalization. Several New York state legislators have announced plans for a comprehensive bill that would decriminalize sex work one of them, State Senator Julia Salazar, included decriminalization in her 2018 campaign platform. And 2020 presidential candidates are facing questions about sex workers’ rights.

As a historian, I have some hope for the future because for more than a century, sex workers have refused to silently submit to the paternalistic policies of the state—we cannot forget the marches, prison riots, pickets, spontaneous uprisings, and coordinated movements. The protests in the wake of SESTA/FOSTA’s passage are part of the legacy of these earlier acts of resistance. Such resistance will continue. If lawmakers truly want to eliminate trafficking, they must let sex workers drive the conversation, believe sex workers when they talk about their lives, and work to ameliorate the conditions under which poverty and bigotry thrive. Current legislation only stands in the way.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Scott W. Stern is the author of The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison “Promiscuous” Women.

Human Trafficking Laws & Regulations

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (TVPA). TVPA combats trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude. It has been reauthorized three times since its initial passage:

The Customs and Facilitations and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009. Sections 307 and 308 of the Act amend the original Tariff Act of 1930 to include provisions to prohibit the importation of goods to the United States made by benefit of human trafficking or forced labor.

Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Section 7202 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act established the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center to achieve greater integration and overall effectiveness in the U.S. government's enforcement and other response efforts, and to work with foreign governments to address the separate but related issues of alien smuggling, trafficking in persons, and criminal support of clandestine terrorist travel.

PROTECT Act of 2003 (PDF, 47 pages - 279 KB). The PROTECT Act (Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today) intends to protect children from abuse and sexual exploitation, a common element of child human trafficking.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA) (PDF, 24 pages - 158 KB). The Department fights human smuggling and trafficking through the issuance of CAFRA, which provides notice to property owners whose properties have been identified as being used to facilitate smuggling or harboring aliens it is an important tool because many employers turn a blind eye to the facilitation of criminal activity on their properties.

The Mann Act of 1910. The Mann Act and its subsequent amendment resolutions makes it a felony to knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce an individual to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution or attempts to do so. It is an effective tool used to prosecute human traffickers.

What is the Mann Act? (with pictures)

The Mann Act, named for US Representative James Mann, is also called the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910. The Mann Act makes it illegal to transport a person into or out of a state, territory, or any possessed land of the United States for the purpose of immoral sex or prostitution. This law has been used to prosecute sexual relations between adults and minors, perpetrators of human trafficking, and polygamists. Violation of the law is a federal offense and a felony.

The White Slave Act of 1910 was actually introduced in 1909. Its sponsor was an Illinois Republican named James Robert Mann. The need for the law was based on stories that Chicago had become the home of white women imported into the United States and forced into prostitution. The act was made law in 1910 by President Taft.

The Mann Act was designed to discourage interstate commerce that related to prostitution, debauchery, and immorality. The still law focuses heavily on the movement of individuals. This is because the motivation behind this legislation was to curb immoral sexual activities, although it was deemed that Congress does not have the power to regulate such activities. Congress does, however, have the power to control transportation between states.

At one time, the wording of the Mann Act was vague, and specific crimes were not clearly outlined. Over time, the law has been amended and clarified on several occasions. One of the crimes that is now specifically outlined in the Mann Act pertains to child pornography.

When the law was first enacted, its primary focus was on commercial activities. Eventually, the law became useful for authorities seeking the prosecution of consensual and non-commercial encounters. For example, the term "immoral activities" was expanded to cover polygamy. Including polygamous transportation allowed a man with multiple wives to be prosecuted when driving the women from one state to another or across international borders. Many uses of the law in prosecuting non-commercial and consensual sex are no longer valid adulterous acts, for example, are no longer prosecuted under this law.

The Mann Act was originally designed for the protection of women. It now includes protection for both sexes and for minors. Since the Mann Act is a federal offense, federal courts have jurisdiction over cases stemming from these laws. Someone prosecuted under this act is charged with a felony, and if convicted, he is subject to incarceration in federal prison.

Of vice and men: a new approach to eradicating sex trafficking by reducing male demand through educational programs and abolitionist legislation.

At the age of four, "Andrea" was sold to a child sex-trafficking ring that operated in both Mexico and the United States. She was enslaved for twelve years, servicing mostly American men. To keep the children obedient, her traffickers frequently abused them psychologically and physically. To cater to their customers' preferences, the ring offered children of various ages from toddlers to teens. Permanently traumatized after years of abuse, Andrea sees herself as "way too damaged . [and] no good." (1)

There is a thriving modern-day slave trade of shocking magnitude and brutality: every year, over 700,000 people are trafficked across international borders. (2) Human trafficking affects every country in the world. (3) To better understand the pandemic of human trafficking, one must first establish a clear definition of this term. In 2000, 117 nations (including the United States) adopted the United Nations' new anti-trafficking protocol, which defined "trafficking in persons" as the "recruitment, transportation and harboring of another person for the purpose of exploitation." (4) Eighty percent of the trafficked victims are women and up to fifty percent are minors. (5) Impoverished women and girls from developing countries are vulnerable to all forms of human trafficking and exploitation, but they are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking. (6) "Sex trafficking" is the recruitment, transportation, and harboring of persons--primarily women and children--for the purpose of sexual exploitation into prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, and other commercial sex activities. (7)

Sex trafficking is a complex global problem that has attracted much attention from legal scholars in particular, the supply side of the problem (namely, the traffickers and the victims of trafficking) has been discussed at length. (8) Until recently, however, one critical aspect of the problem has largely evaded the scrutiny of scholars, anti-trafficking activists, and law enforcement alike: the role of male demand for commercial sexual services in perpetuating and growing the sex trafficking industry. (9) There is now an emerging consensus that strategies which solely address the supply side of sex trafficking are insufficient and ultimately ineffective. (10)

This Comment assumes that sex trafficking is fundamentally an economic problem, and that appropriate incentives can impact both the supply and the demand drivers. (11) Given this premise, this Comment examines how the male demand for commercial sexual services stimulates and sustains the mushrooming sex trafficking industry. Furthermore, this Comment argues it is both feasible and effective to fight sex trafficking through educational and legislative measures aimed at reducing the male demand for commercial sexual services. These methods include educating the men who use prostitutes, changing misguided male attitudes toward commercial sexual services and prostitutes, and enacting and enforcing legislation that criminalizes the purchase of sex.

Part II introduces and defines the problem of sex trafficking. Part III discusses the economic incentives underlying, and the human impact of, sex trafficking. Part IV assesses the most recent anti-trafficking protocol and laws adopted by the United Nations and by the United States. Part V analyzes the importance of male demand in perpetuating sex trafficking and reveals some insights on the men who use prostitutes (also known as "johns"). Part VI discusses the efficacy of various educational programs targeted at johns. The next Part compares two different legislative approaches and their impact on curbing prostitution and sex trafficking. The concluding section, Part VIII, recommends a more effective approach to combating sex trafficking: a comprehensive strategy that entails both educational and legislative initiatives to reduce male demand.



Sex trafficking is often appropriately described as "sexual slavery." (12) Owned by their pimps, brothel owners, and customers for the "purpose of financial gain, sexual gratification and/or power and domination," (13) trafficked victims are essentially slaves. Trafficked women typically earn little or no money for their services, and they must often acquiesce to any and all of the sexual demands of the customer. (14) Given this grim reality, how and why do so many women and girls end up becoming sex slaves?

The most common factors that promote sex trafficking include: an increase in poverty and unemployment in developing countries, the lack of educational and economic opportunities for women and the consequent feminization of poverty, the rise of globalization and increased mobility, the expansion of transnational organized crime, the widening economic gap between developing and developed countries, and gender-based social inequalities. (15) Armed conflict in the victims' home countries and the subsequent military occupation by peacekeeping troops is another major reason. (16) The combined effect of these factors significantly increases the vulnerability of destitute women and children to the traffickers' sophisticated recruiting techniques. (17) Trafficked children are often sold by their family or abducted, while many naive girls and women also fall prey to deceptive job advertisements placed by cunning traffickers. (18)

Traffickers primarily target girls and young women who live in economically depressed countries and who are desperate for any employment opportunity. (19) These girls and women are often trafficked into foreign countries because it is much more challenging for trafficked victims living in foreign countries to escape from their traffickers given the significant language, legal, and cultural barriers. (20) In addition, entrepreneurial traffickers have increased their importation of foreign women into affluent, developed countries in order to satisfy the increasing demand for commercial sexual services in those countries. (21) The magnitude of human trafficking is alarming: the United States Department of State estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people (including men) are trafficked into the United States every year, but other sources estimate the number may be as high as 50,000 to 100,000 women and children alone. (22)


In the sex trafficking business model, the victims are merely "expendable, reusable, and resalable cheap commodities" (23) to be exploited for the sole profit of their owner. (24) Sex trafficking is the perfect criminal business unlike drugs or guns, which can only be sold once to any particular party, (25) the sexual services of trafficked victims can be sold again and again. (26) Depending on the demands of the local market and her individual characteristics, a trafficked woman can cost anywhere from $14,000 to $40,000. (27) However, the financial return for purchasing her body is unbelievably lucrative: she can earn $75,000 to $250,000 or more each year for her pimp. (28) One trafficker commented, "You can buy a woman for $10,000 and you can make back your money back in a week if she is pretty and she is young. Then everything else is profit." (29) Indeed, global profits from sex trafficking are estimated to be $7 to $12 billion dollars annually and growing rapidly. (30) In fact, profits from the international sex trade are second only to those from the drug trade. (31)

Moreover, until the United States passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 which stiffened criminal penalties for trafficking, (32) the federal penalties for sex trafficking were much lighter than those for drug dealing. Prior to passing the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the statutory maximum for dealing in ten grams of LSD or a kilo of heroin was a life sentence, while the maximum statutory punishment for forcing someone to engage in involuntary servitude was only ten years. (33) Hence, given its low investment costs, quick returns, very high profit margins, low risk of arrest, and relatively light penalties, sex trafficking has a very high profit-to-cost ratio among comparable criminal activities such as drug trafficking. (34) As a result, sex trafficking has emerged as the new crime of choice for international organized criminal rings. (35)


While the traffickers reap enormous profits, it is the victims who must bear the immeasurable human cost of sex trafficking. (36) To maximize their profits, traffickers typically force their victims to work ten to eighteen hours each day. (37) Traffickers routinely beat, rape, starve, confine, torture, and psychologically and emotionally abuse the women. (38) The buyers, too, are sometimes violent and often force the women to engage in degrading or abusive sexual acts. (39) If the victim does attempt to escape, she bears a high risk of being caught and severely beaten or even killed by her trafficker. (40)

Not surprisingly, these harsh conditions cause victims to develop severe and often permanent physical, mental, emotional, and psychological trauma. (41) Many victims will contract HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. (42) Anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and severe post-traumatic stress disorder are common psychological manifestations. (43) Most trafficked victims only survive for two to four years before they die as a result of homicide, suicide, HIV/AIDS, or other factors. (44) Even if the victims are rescued by the police, in most countries, they are jailed in detention centers awaiting deportation due to their illegal immigrant status. (45)

Thus, contrary to the erroneous perception that prostitution is a victimless crime (a belief which is still widely accepted in some places), (46) too many victims have paid for their crime of poverty with devastated lives. (47) In response to the egregious human rights abuses from the sex trade, international human rights activists, the United Nations, and the U.S. government have joined forces to enact legislative and regulatory schemes to penalize traffickers and offer some measure of protection for victims. (48)



In November 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children ("Trafficking Protocol"). (49) The Trafficking Protocol is a milestone in international anti-trafficking law for several reasons. It is the first anti-trafficking agreement adopted by the United Nations that takes a "comprehensive international approach" (50) to eradicating sex trafficking by punishing the traffickers and by aiding their victims. (51) Moreover, it was the first time the United Nations officially recognized poverty as an important contributing factor in that poverty forces many desperate girls and women into accepting deceiving job offers from seemingly respectable employers, who often turn out to be sex traffickers and pimps. (52)

Most noteworthy, however, is that the Trafficking Protocol explicitly highlights the factor of male demand and calls upon the Member States to adopt or strengthen measures that would "discourage the demand" that fosters sexual exploitation. (53) In spite of its progressive policies, there is one serious flaw with the Trafficking Protocol: its cursory suggestion of "discourag[ing] the demand" is too weak and unenforceable to capture the full attention and compliance from its Member States. An explicit resolution requiring its signatories to implement policies aimed at substantially reducing the demand for commercial sexual services would be more effective.

Similarly, federal law in the United States has historically ignored the role of male demand in fostering sex trafficking and prostitution. Male buyers are therefore able to escape accountability and responsibility for their central role in perpetuating the sex slave trade. (54)


Before 2000, U.S. prosecutors were required to laboriously build cases against traffickers using a combination of federal criminal statutes. (55) However, it soon became clear that the inadequacies of existing laws, the difficulties of prosecuting and penalizing traffickers, and the burgeoning problem of human trafficking required a strong and comprehensive anti-trafficking law that would impose stiffer criminal penalties on the perpetuators. (56)

On October 28, 2000, the first comprehensive anti-trafficking statute in the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 ("TVPA"), was signed into law. (57) The TVPA intended to combat trafficking through a three-pronged approach: (1) prevention of trafficking, (2) prosecution of traffickers, and (3) protection of victims. (58) To deter trafficking, the TVPA authorized the President to carry out initiatives to stimulate economic and educational opportunities for foreign girls and women living in impoverished communities. (59) The TVPA also significantly increased the penalties for trafficking by raising the statutory maximum imprisonment from ten to twenty years in certain circumstances, traffickers could be sentenced to life imprisonment. (60) Medical, psychological, social, and economic services were allocated to assist rescued trafficking victims. (61) Finally, the TVPA established a special T-visa that allows eligible victims to reside legally in the United States. (62)

Initially, the TVPA received an enthusiastic response. (63) The TVPA also resulted in stronger enforcement: between 2001 and 2004, the Department of Justice ("DOJ") tripled the number of trafficking investigations, doubled the number of convicted defendants, and provided economic assistance and T-visas to hundreds of victims. (64) However, the TVPA has myriad weaknesses which have been criticized by several scholars. (65) Critics contend that the TVPA does not have the intended deterrent value because the chance of traffickers actually being discovered and prosecuted remains quite low compared to the magnitude of the problem. (66) The TVPA has also been criticized for emphasizing the prosecution of traffickers at the expense of protecting the victims. (67)

Ultimately, the most significant flaw of the TVPA is its failure to address and penalize the demand side. (68) The TVPA ignores the reality that unless demand for commercial sexual services severely diminishes, illegal trafficking in women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation is unlikely to cease. (69) Congress responded to some of these criticisms when it revised the TVPA in 2003. (70) The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 ("TVPRA 2003") enabled victims to bring federal civil suits against traffickers for actual and punitive damages, (71) but TVPRA 2003 still failed to address the demand side.

The real legislative breakthrough was the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 ("TVPRA 2005"). (72) For the first time, Congress specifically addressed the critical factor of demand. (73) TVPRA 2005 authorized a $50 million grant for local law enforcement and social services agencies to develop and execute programs targeted at reducing male demand and to investigate and prosecute buyers of commercial sex acts. (74) It also required the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to research and prepare reports on the best practices for reducing demand for commercial sex acts. (75)

TVPRA 2005's recognition of and initial efforts to tackle the demand factor is highly commendable. Nonetheless, more efforts need to be made to understand and effectively combat male demand because it is the primary driver of the sex trafficking industry. (76)


A leading anti-sex trafficking activist once remarked that "[t]he root cause of trafficking is demand for commercial sexual services, without which trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation would dissolve." (77) Thus, the significance of demand for commercial sexual services must be recognized in order to understand the sex trafficking equation. This Comment makes two assumptions in analyzing the demand factor. First, it is virtually impossible to distinguish commercial sexual services provided by trafficked women from those provided by women who voluntarily engage in the commercial sex industry (78) so this Comment will discuss strategies to decrease the male demand for commercial sexual services in general. Second, the sexual desires and preferences of the male customers who purchase commercial sexual acts (hereinafter "johns") influence and direct all aspects of sex trafficking, from the type of girls that are recruited to the location of the brothels. (79)


Sex trafficking is an efficient market that is very responsive to its clients' needs. For example, in areas around the world where sex trafficking and prostitution were previously non-existent, abundant male demand but insufficient supply has resulted in an exploding commercial sex industry. (80) In the 1960s, the influx of American solders in Southeast Asia suddenly and rapidly increased the demand for commercial sexual services. (81) As demand exceeded supply, traffickers started to kidnap women and girls from various countries in the region and force them into the commercial sex industry. (82) The prevalence of prostitution in areas with heavy military presence is evidence that male demand directly impacts sex trafficking patterns and the location of brothels. (83)

Male demand also plays a pivotal role in determining the characteristics of the trafficked victims. (84) Johns typically do not explicitly ask for trafficked women, but they often demand "something different," meaning they desire "exotic" foreign women. (85) The current trend among johns is a preference for Eastern and Central European women these women now comprise almost 25% of the global sex trade. (86) The male demand for virgins or "clean girls" has caused child prostitution to increase at alarming rates. (87) As a result, sex trafficking victims are getting increasingly younger it is now common to find girls thirteen years old or younger among trafficked victims. (88) The demand for novelty and variety has prompted national and regional sex industry circuits where victims are rotated among cities. (89)

Over the last twenty years, the global sex trafficking industry has rapidly expanded due to the increased mobility of both the johns (who often travel abroad for sex tourism purposes) and of the victims (who are often trafficked to foreign countries). (90) Since the mid-1970s, an estimated thirty million girls and women have been sold worldwide. (91) The most common purpose for trafficking women and girls is forced prostitution thus, most of the trafficked girls and young women are extremely likely to be sexually exploited. (92) It is very difficult to clearly distinguish between women who are forced into prostitution due to force, coercion, or poverty from those who truly choose to engage in it free from any coercive force, but one thing is clear: "[W]ithout men's demand for prostitute women, there would be no such women." (93)

It is hard to ascertain exactly how much male demand exists. Accurate statistics are difficult to obtain and verify given the clandestine nature of buying sex and the different research methodologies and definitions used. (94) Several studies have found that the reported percentage of men who have purchased sex acts varies widely, from a low of 7% in Great Britain to a high of 73% in Thailand, although one should be careful about drawing cross-country comparisons given different research methodologies. (95) Estimates for the percentage of American men who have bought sexual acts also show a dramatic variance, from 16% (96) to 69%. (97) These differences highlight the need to understand the definitions and research methodologies used in each study before drawing any inferences.

Regardless of actual incidences across countries, one can reasonably infer that a considerable number of men have purchased some form of commercial sex act in every country. This phenomenon reflects the extent to which cultural socialization and personal rationalization has promoted and ingrained the concept of buying commercial sex as acceptable and normal male behavior. (98) The next section explores the validity of the premise that the purchase of commercial sexual services is normal and inevitable male behavior.


The billion-dollar sex trafficking industry is based on one unspoken assumption: purchasing commercial sex acts from females should be tolerated, accepted, and legitimized as a "necessary evil" because the biological male need for sexual intercourse is potent and uncontainable. (99) Trumpeting the unquestioned justification that "men will be men" has too often allowed johns to escape critical examination, censure, and penalties from scholars, legislators, and law enforcement. (100)

Contrary to the defeatist attitude that "men will be men," the truth is that the supposed male "need" for commercial sexual services is a malleable and socialized concept. (101) While men's (and women's) biological need for sexual intimacy is innate, buying sex from strangers to fulfill their needs is not. (102) Societal notions about masculinity and strong peer pressure result in the acceptance of purchasing sex acts as normal male behavior. (103) For example, bachelor and fraternity parties that patronize strip clubs and prostitutes are one way in which men define "normal" male behavior. (104) Similarly, a study of migrant Mexican male workers in the United States found that only 5% of them had ever bought sex when they were living in Mexico. (105) However, because the migrant workers were now surrounded by other men and isolated from their wives and girlfriends back home in Mexico, 40% to 46% of these workers had resorted to purchasing sex in the United States. (106) For Thai men, using prostitutes has become a culturally accepted rite of passage and male bonding ritual. (107) As seen in these examples, the purchase of commercial sexual services is largely motivated by societal expectations of what "real men" do and peer pressure to conform to these norms. (108)

While the desire for sexual intimacy in both men and women is a biological imperative, (109) johns confuse the need for sexual intimacy with the need to purchase commercial sexual acts, and they rationalize buying sexual services as a natural activity. (110) Johns feel their gender and money entitle them to have sex whenever, wherever, however, and with whomever they wish. (111) Johns often justify their actions by trivializing prostitution as a mere commodity exchange (112) and dehumanizing prostitutes as "sluts" and "whores" who deserve degrading treatment since the women's only purpose is to satisfy the johns' sexual demands. (113)

The combination of cultural socialization and personal rationalization thus engenders an environment where sex trafficking and prostitution becomes acceptable and even deemed inevitable. (114) However, since the male demand for commercial sex is a malleable and socialized concept, theoretically re-education of more positive male norms (e.g., norms that do not consider purchasing commercial sex acts acceptable or desirable) and appropriate punitive measures should persuade johns to stop patronizing the commercial sex industry. Before one can begin the process of reeducating johns and reshaping male norms, however, it is necessary to understand the motivations, characteristics, and behaviors of the heterogeneous john population.


Who is a john? What does he look like? Despite their critical contribution to the sex trafficking problem, johns have traditionally remained faceless, nameless, and blameless entities while the weight of law enforcement and societal opprobrium has fallen on the prostitutes. (115) In contrast to the prostitutes, johns can remain anonymous and can maintain a facade of being "respectable" men. (116) Anonymity encourages men to seek out commercial sex, (117) and it protects the johns from accountability and culpability for their behavior and its consequences. (118)

Unveiling the faces and names of the johns reveals that most are surprisingly ordinary men. (119) One British study found that the typical john is around thirty years old, married, and employed full-time with no previous criminal record. (120) Interviews with forty domestic and foreign prostitutes revealed more information about the johns. (121) First, johns come from all nationalities and races. (122) Johns also come from all age groups the age of buyers ranged from fifteen to ninety. (123) A significant proportion--about 70% to 90%--were married. (124) Buyers also came from all occupational backgrounds, ranging from working class to professional men, and included prominent community members such as politicians and doctors. (125)

Despite their diverse backgrounds, johns tend to share similar perceptions about prostitution. (126) Many johns also believe common myths about prostitutes such as: "she does it because she likes it," "she chooses to do it," and "prostitutes make a lot of money." (127) Johns also feel entitled to any sexual service they desire because they dehumanize the prostitutes, and instead view them as cheap sex objects. (128) Some johns refuse to take responsibility for their own actions even if they know that the prostitute was forced into commercial sexual exploitation. In particular, one john commented:

However, johns are not homogenous in their attitudes, motivations, and behaviors. For example, johns are often believed to be lonely, shy, and socially inept bachelors who are sexually frustrated. (130) In truth, johns seek prostitutes for a multitude of reasons, including the desire to have a certain type of sexual activity which they are unable to have with their primary partner, the thrill of the illicit adventure, the desire to realize a sexual fantasy or to unleash their anger and misogynistic beliefs, and the need to have ultimate power and control over another person. (131) By understanding the unique beliefs and motivations of the diverse segments within the heterogeneous john population, one can gain insight into effective ways to address male demand based on their differential segments.

Johns can be segmented into four groups based on their motivations, (132) First, Negative Compulsive men do not enjoy sex with prostitutes but still solicit commercial sex. (133) Second, Positive Compulsive men enjoy the sex but have attempted to stop. (134) Third, Positive Accepting men enjoy sex with prostitutes, do not try to stop, and generally support legalization of prostitution. (135) Fourth, Socially Inadequate men are the stereotypical johns who are shy and socially awkward. (136)

Johns also report a considerable range in frequency of prostitution usage. (137) Numerous studies have found that a subgroup of hard-core, habitual users account for a disproportionate share of the demand for prostitution. (138) One U.S. study found that 11% of men who had ever purchased sexual acts did so more than 100 times. (139) Changing the behavior of these habitual buyers will certainly be very challenging, since they tend to have psychological problems and sexual addictions such that they can only relate to women in sexualized or extremely violent and degrading ways. (140) Habitual users are less susceptible to legal measures and would continue their behavior regardless of the law, (141) but targeting these habitual buyers is a worthwhile challenge because effecting a behavioral change within this group would significantly reduce the number of sex acts purchased overall. (142)

In contrast, occasional buyers are more likely to respond to legal measures since they are afraid of public prosecution. (143) Moreover, in one study, researchers found a significant portion of the men who had sought out prostitutes (even those who were repeat buyers) said they were dissatisfied with the experience and wanted to stop. (144) In another study, a majority of the men who had purchased sex acts had tried to stop going to prostitutes, suggesting that a significant proportion of the men are troubled by their sex addictions. (145) This finding is encouraging as it suggests that certain types of johns may be amenable to changing their behavior, and so a carefully designed program that utilizes educational programs, sex addiction counseling, and/or appropriate legal remedies could diminish the demand for commercial sex. (146)


Effecting changes in male demand, attitudes, and behaviors is feasible for several reasons. First, psychological studies have indicated that attitudes toward acceptable norms of sexual behavior are malleable, as evidenced by one experiment, which showed that desensitization to the sexual objectification of women can occur quickly through repeated exposure to pornography. (147) In one study, researchers found that increased pornography exposure resulted in more callousness towards violence against women and more acceptance of unusual sexual behavior, such as violent sex. (148) Second, some segments of the heterogeneous john population would be deterred from buying commercial sexual services if they fully understood the harmful effects on society and serious criminal consequences of purchasing sexual services. (149)

Therefore, one should reject the erroneous belief that purchasing sex is natural male behavior, which too conveniently allows johns to escape responsibility for their actions. (150) Targeting male demand is a more effective way to address sex trafficking because unlike their trafficked partners, the majority of johns voluntarily choose to engage in commercial sex. (151) Many johns are smart and rational buyers they will purchase commercial sex only if the physical and psychological benefits of doing so outweigh the financial costs, legal risks, and social stigma. (152) Patronizing prostitutes can threaten and destroy the johns' own freedom, health, social standing, and perhaps even their lives--once the johns understand the sobering ramifications of their purchase decision, many will choose to make different choices. (153)

Male demand causes sex trafficking, yet it is also the weakest link in the sex trafficking chain. (154) Reducing or eradicating sex trafficking is very difficult yet not impossible, but it does require combating male demand and changing deep-rooted cultural norms and practices that devalue women. (155) The norms, attitudes, and resultant behavior can be positively changed through patient re-education of johns and effective enforcement of demand-oriented legislation.



Several years ago, the Philippines-based chapter of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women ("CATW") started an educational program targeted at males between the ages of seventeen and eighteen in twelve different communities with high levels of prostitution. (156) The three-year project aimed to prevent sex trafficking by changing the sexual attitudes and behaviors of boys and young men, and thereby discouraging the demand for prostitution, through educational workshops that highlight the harm of prostitution and trafficking, men's roles in perpetuating sexual exploitation and trafficking, and men's roles as catalysts for change. (157) Former victims of sex trafficking helped develop the curriculum and also helped teach the men, particularly about the harms of sex trafficking and prostitution. (158) Although it is too early to assess the long-term results of this program comprehensively, preliminary responses from male participants before and after they enrolled in the three-day camp have been encouraging. (159)

In one group of low-income, urban truck drivers, almost all of the men had bought a sexual act from a prostitute before. (160) Initially, the men's attitudes towards prostitution were cavalier and nonchalant. (161) These attitudes began to change as the men learned more about prostitution and men's roles in perpetuating the practice. (162) In discussion groups, some men even made suggestions about how to change attitudes, behaviors, and patterns in the male-dominated trucking environment. (163) Upon completion of the program, both the men and the facilitators recognized that "significant learning" had occurred. (164) To understand whether there was a long-term change in the participants' attitudes and behaviors, CATW intends to follow up with the participants for a period of five years. (165) These initial findings indicate that educational programs that raise men's awareness of the tragic plight of sex slaves and of the johns' role in perpetuating human rights abuses can be an effective way to deter men from patronizing the commercial sex industry. (166)


In 1995, San Francisco became the first city to focus its law enforcement on the demand side of prostitution through the First Offender Prostitution Program ("FOPP"). (167) In lieu of criminal prosecution, first-time johns receive citations and then are offered the opportunity to pay a $500 fee and attend FOPP, a day-long educational and rehabilitation program. (168) The fines are then funneled back into social and health services for former or current prostitutes. (169)

FOPP has several pedagogical goals. (170) First, it aims to expose the ugly truth of the commercial sex industry to the men, from the highly lucrative profits for the pimps to the appalling abuse of the girls and women who are forced into the industry. (171) Second, FOPP aims to teach men about the health hazards of prostitution many johns are high sexual risk-takers yet are surprisingly ignorant about sexually transmitted diseases. (172) Finally, in an appeal to the men's consciences about the harms of prostitution, FOPP makes it clear the johns sustain and support a brutal system of sexual exploitation. (173) Former prostitutes are heavily involved in the entire process, from developing the curriculum to sharing their personal testimonies on the harmful impact of prostitution. (174)

Reactions to FOPP and its initial results have been very encouraging. (175) In one survey conducted among 747 participants, 100% said they learned something new and 97% said it is unlikely they would solicit a prostitute again. (176) Qualitative responses from FOPP participants reveal that their attitudes toward prostitutes have changed for the better)77 Most importantly, the johns' behavioral change has been confirmed by the police department's recidivism data. (178) Of the 2200 men who attended FOPP between 1997 and 2001, only eighteen were rearrested for soliciting prostitutes. (179) This recidivism rate of 0.008% is extremely low in comparison to the general 33% recidivism rate for all misdemeanor offenders. (180)

In sum, a comprehensive educational program targeted at the right male audience can have a powerful impact on reducing demand. Generally, john schools such as the FOPP program have found that the occasional buyer segment is a good target for education because habitual buyers tend to be less likely to change their behavior based on education or moral persuasion. (181) Motivating behavioral change in the habitual buyers will likely require some combination of stiffer criminal penalties and fines, education, sex-addiction rehabilitation and counseling services, and financial or other disincentives. (182) While segment-based programs targeted at individual johns are effective, it is also important to stimulate broader societal change in male norms. One way of facilitating widespread change in male behaviors is through legislation.



In 1998, Sweden enacted the "Act Prohibiting the Purchase of Sexual Services" (hereafter the "Prohibition Act") and became the first country to exclusively criminalize the buyers of commercial sex. (183) Swedish legislators considered prostitution a serious form of male violence and oppression against women, and one that grossly violated the integrity, dignity, and rights of women and girls. (184) The Prohibition Act regards prostitution and sex trafficking as inseparable and equally harmful practices thus, by targeting male demand for commercial sex, legislators hoped to eliminate both sex trafficking and prostitution. (185) Simultaneously, Sweden launched a nationwide anti-sex trafficking public awareness campaign to inform citizens and warn potential johns about the new law. (186)

Since the Prohibition Act was passed, stiffer criminal penalties and aggressive enforcement have considerably impacted the conviction rate and the number of johns.(187) In one year, the conviction rate for johns rose almost 40%, from a conviction rate of 32% in 2000 to 44% in 2001. (188) Within two years after the passage of the new Act, the number of johns fell by 75%. (189) This sharp drop in male demand precipitated a similar decline in the supply: the number of female prostitutes dropped by 50%. (190)

The Prohibition Act thus had a "chilling effect" on sex trafficking. (191) Without the law, Sweden would most likely be a major destination country for trafficked Russian women, much like its neighbors, Finland and Norway. (192) However, Swedish criminal intelligence units have intercepted conversations between traffickers which indicate that Sweden is considered a "bad market" for trafficking because the buyers are very afraid of being caught. (193) Buyers demand that the illegal acts be conducted very discreetly, which incurs additional logistics and operational costs for the pimp. (194) Rising costs and a decreasing number of clients have eroded the traffickers' profitability, making Sweden an increasingly unattractive place for traffickers to do business. (195) These findings were corroborated by former sex-trafficked victims who worked in Sweden. (196)

Furthermore, criminalizing the purchase of sex has positively influenced the cultural values of Swedes. (197) Surveys of public opinion conducted in 2001 and again in 2002 reveal that 80% of Swedes support the Prohibition Act. (198) In addition, a generation of young Swedes has grown up indoctrinated with the belief that prostitution is not socially desirable and is innately harmful to women, and this has influenced their views and responses towards sexual exploitation of women. (199) As an example, on a recent friendship mission to Kenya, a group of Swedish teenagers reported their teachers to the authorities because the teachers had solicited local prostitutes. (200)

The Swedish law is not without its critics. (201) One unintended externality from the Prohibition Act has been an increase in sex trafficking in neighboring countries like Finland and Norway. (202) Since sex trafficking is a well-organized and highly adaptable industry, eradicating it requires the political commitment, enforcement muscle, and cooperation of every country. (203) Sweden is cognizant of this coordination problem thus, its Ministry for Gender Equality Affairs has worked with other Nordic and Baltic countries to launch a series of anti-sex trafficking campaigns. (204)


In contrast to Sweden's abolitionist model, the state of Victoria in Australia decided to legalize prostitution in 1984. (205) Victoria's "harm minimization" decision assumed that regulating the commercial industry would result in: (1) the containment of the highly visible street prostitution trade, (2) the elimination of organized crime, and (3) the end of child prostitution and sex trafficking. (206) However, twenty years later, a study examining the effects of legalizing prostitution in Victoria revealed that legalization has actually exacerbated the harms it was meant to minimize as well as created new problems. (207)

First, organized crime and sex trafficking have actually increased because legalization stimulated a surge in male demand, which required a steady supply of women. (208) Never one to miss a lucrative business opportunity, organized crime solved the problem of supply shortage by trafficking women and children. (209) Although the actual numbers are difficult to ascertain, it is estimated that at least 1000 victims have been trafficked into Victoria. (210) Second, prosecuting sex traffickers is more challenging in environments where prostitution is legal. (211) Third, legalization has not provided the better working conditions for prostitutes as expected. (212) The problem is that legal prostitution makes it harder to distinguish between women who are forced into prostitution from those who voluntarily chose to become prostitutes, and thus it becomes more challenging for sex-trafficked women to escape the industry and to receive much-needed health and social services as well as to seek justice against their pimps and traffickers. (213)

More troubling is the social and cultural impact of legalization. When legal barriers to prostitution are eliminated, social and ethical barriers to treating women as sex objects are quickly discarded as well. (214) The commercial sex industry has used its vast financial power to gain substantial political clout and widespread acceptance from mainstream society. (215) Consequently, men who would not ordinarily engage in illegal prostitution may be encouraged to solicit prostitutes the legality of prostitution indicates that it is a socially acceptable practice. (216) With increased demand but inadequate local supply, a market in sex trafficking has naturally developed to fill the gap. (217) This phenomenon is not unique to Victoria wherever prostitution has been legalized, the consequent surge in demand has directly resulted in more trafficked women. (218)


Given its low labor costs, minimum legal barriers, billion-dollar profits, and abusive working conditions, sex trafficking is an example of unfettered free-market capitalism at its worst. If the global sex trade is allowed to operate unhindered by moral or ethical considerations and legal restrictions, the trade will be regulated only by the market forces of supply and demand. (219) Given the multi-billion dollar profits of the international sex trade industry, a growth in demand often results in an increase of sex trafficking if there is insufficient local supply. (220) Sexual exploitation of women and girls provides handsome profits for the traffickers and instant sexual gratification for the johns, while the victims are the ones who pay the steep price of sex trafficking with their freedom, their health, and sometimes even their lives. (221)

In the arduous and ongoing war against sex trafficking, there are glimmers of hope and victory: more traffickers are being investigated and prosecuted in every country, and vulnerable girls and women in developing countries are receiving critical economic and educational opportunities. (222) While commendable, efforts that solely address the supply side of the sex trafficking equation are insufficient and ultimately ineffective to stop the rapid growth of the sex trade (223) because it is the male demand for commercial sexual services that stimulates, sustains, and expands the sex trade. (224)

Contrary to the defeatist attitude that "men will be men," this Comment has argued that it is both feasible and effective to reduce male demand by changing the attitudes and behaviors of boys and young men towards prostitution and sex trafficking. (225) As rational persons, johns will make different decisions if they learn that the financial, legal, and health costs of their actions outweigh the momentary physical benefit they gain from prostitution. (226) Therefore, if the United States is serious about eradicating sex trafficking, the most effective way is to adopt a comprehensive, multi-stage, demand-oriented strategy that includes both educational programs and legal incentives. (227)

The first stage of this demand-oriented strategy is for the United States to enact a federal abolitionist law similar to Sweden's Prohibition Act. The immediate and long-term results of Sweden's Prohibition Act prove that criminalizing the purchase of commercial sex and vigorously enforcing this criminalization statute is a strong deterrent to johns and traffickers: within two years of passing the Prohibition Act, Sweden experienced a 75% decrease in the john population and 50% decline in the number of female prostitutes. (228)

Furthermore, the legalization of prostitution is a failed policy and not one the United States should consider. In stark contrast to Sweden's success in curbing prostitution and sex trafficking, (229) Victoria's experiment with legalizing prostitution has only served to facilitate and stimulate the rapid growth of the commercial sex industry in the state. (230) Moreover, domestic supply shortages but increased demand has precipitated an increase in sex trafficking of foreign women to Victoria. (231)

The second stage of the strategy is to combat male demand through the re-education of johns and the reshaping of male norms in general. Innovative male-oriented educational programs such as CATW's educational workshops in the Philippines and various john schools such as FOPP in San Francisco have revealed some promising preliminary results in effecting changes in male attitudes and behaviors. (232) Graduates of john schools typically have recidivism rates around 1% or less, which is significantly below the average recidivism rate for misdemeanors. (233) These success rates prove that education and rehabilitation are an effective deterrent, at least for certain segments of the john population. (234)

The U.S. government should also implement a high-profile, nationwide public awareness campaign. (235) Sweden launched a nationwide public education campaign in conjunction with their passage of the Prohibition Act. (236) As a result of the Prohibition Act and the public awareness campaign, the number of Swedes who support the law has increased, and there is now heightened national consciousness about the harmful effects of trafficking. (237) To influence a positive change in male attitudes and norms among impressionable teenaged boys, the United States should consider incorporating age-appropriate discussions of sex trafficking and exploitation into high school sex education curriculums.

In addition to its domestic efforts to address male demand, the United States must initiate and lead a global effort to combat sex trafficking through demand-oriented measures. The main drawback of Sweden's law has been the negative externality effect of increasing sex trafficking and prostitution in neighboring countries. (238) Since no country is immune from the harms of sex trafficking, (239) it is imperative that every country stands firm and united in a global commitment to eradicate sex trafficking. (240) A first step in this endeavor would be for the United Nations to adopt a revised protocol, one that accurately reflects the significance of the demand factor by requiring Member States to adopt abolitionist legislation and to ensure its enforcement.

This emphasis on the demand side is not meant to negate the good intentions of current efforts that address the poverty and paucity of economic opportunities for women and girls in developing countries. Eliminating the continuing gender inequality and reducing destitute women's economic incentives to take risky jobs abroad are critical, but very long-term, solutions. Even increasing the penalties and conviction rates for sex traffickers is unlikely to significantly deter the sex trade since the extremely lucrative profits are too enticing. Thus, the most effective way to drive immediate and long-term change is to apply pressure on the "weak link" in the sex trafficking chain: the male demand. (241) Male buyers must be held responsible and liable for their role in perpetuating and sustaining this modern-day slave trade. (242)

By patronizing the sexual services of trafficked women, johns are "debas[ing] themselves and deepen[ing] the misery of others" as President Bush described in an address to the United Nations. (243) Trafficking is "a special evil" because it abuses and exploits the most innocent and vulnerable members of society. (244) All human beings have inherent dignity and are deserving of respect, hence they should never be reduced to "objects of power or commerce." (245) The unfortunate reality is that sex-trafficked victims are often stripped of their humanity and seen only as expendable commodities, living everyday in an "underground of brutality and lonely fear." (246) Sadly, too many sex-trafficked victims will end their short lives as sex slaves, never breaking free of the brutality and lonely fear. (247)

In spite of the bleak picture, there is still hope. By addressing the key driver of the global sex trade--male demand for commercial sexual services--one hopes that the rampant sex slavery trade of today will soon follow the path of the African slave trade into the dark chapters in the annals of human history. It is too late to save many girls like Andrea from permanent and irreversible damage, (248) but one sincerely hopes that vigorous efforts to eradicate sex trafficking now will save a future generation of girls from becoming like Andrea.

(1) Peter Landesman, The Girls Next Door, N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 25, 2004, available at

(2) Rosy Kandathil, Global Sex Trafficking and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000: Legislative Responses to the Problem of Modern Slavery, 12 MICH. J. GENDER & L. 87, 88 (2005).

(3) Kara C. Ryf, Note, The First Modern Anti-Slavery Law: The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, 34 CASE W. RES. J. INT'L L. 45, 47 (2002).

(4) United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, G.A. Res. 55/25, U.N. GAOR, 55th Sess., Annex II, at Article III(a), U.N. Doc. A/55/25 (2000) [hereinafter 2000 Trafficking Protocol], available at convention_%20traff_eng.pdf (emphasis added). Exploitation includes, but is not limited to, "prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or [similar] practices." Id. In contrast to previous protocols, the 2000 Protocol focuses on the exploitation element in trafficking, making the victim's consent to exploitation irrelevant. Id. Some commentators approve of the U.N.'s strategic decision to steer away from the victim's consent and instead focus on the exploitation element. See ANGELA BORTEL, ENDING TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN: A VICTIM-CENTERED APPROACH TO LEGISLATION (2001), available at (contending that the main feature of adopting a victim-centered law is the irrelevance of consent).


(6) See Ryf, supra note 3, at 46 (noting that "trafficking in persons can take many forms, with the most prevalent and fastest growing [form] being the commerce of women and children for sexual exploitation").

(7) Kandathil, supra note 2, at 88 see 2000 Trafficking Protocol, supra note 4, at art. III(a) (defining trafficking in terms of exploitation of its victims).

(8) See, e.g., Jennifer M. Chacon, Misery and Myopia: Understanding the Failures of U.S. Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking, 74 FORDHAM L. REV. 2977 (2006) Susan W. Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells but Drugs Don't Talk: Trafficking of Women Sex Workers and an Economic Solution, 24 T. JEFFERSON L. REV. 161 (2002) [hereinafter Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells] Susan W. Tiefenbrun, The Saga of Susannah: A U.S. Remedy for Sex Trafficking in Women: The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, 2002 UTAH L. REV. 107 (2002) [hereinafter Tiefenbrun, Saga] Theresa Barone, Note, The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000: Defining the Problem and Creating a Solution, 17 TEMP. INT'L & COMP. L.J. 579 (2003) Katrin Corrigan, Comment, Putting the Brakes on the Global Trafficking of Women for the Sex Trade: An Analysis of Existing Regulatory Schemes to Stop the Flow of Traffic, 25 FORDHAM INT'L L.J. 151 (2001) Kathryn E. Nelson, Comment, Sex Trafficking and Forced Prostitution: Comprehensive New Legal Approaches, 24 Hous. J. INT'L L. 551 (2002) Ryf, supra note 3 see also Mohamed Y. Mattar, Trafficking in Persons: An Annotated Legal Bibliography, 96 LAW LIBR. J. 669 (2004) (an annotated bibliography of articles related to human trafficking).

(9) Mattar, supra note 8, at 671 (noting that "[a]lthough many articles on the topic [of trafficking in persons] have been published[,] . several areas have yet to receive adequate coverage. In my judgment, these areas include . the issue of demand. ..") see DONNA M. HUGHES, BEST PRACTICES TO ADDRESS THE DEMAND SIDE OF TRAFFICKING 1-2 (2004), available at ("Over the past decade . efforts to combat trafficking have aimed to stop trafficking on the supply side. In comparison, there have been few campaigns or efforts aimed at reducing the demand for victims.").

(10) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 2. Hughes believes "the movement to abolish trafficking and sexual exploitation needs a more comprehensive approach, one that includes analyses of the demand side of trafficking, and develops practices to combat the demand in receiving countries." Id.

(11) See generally Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells, supra note 8 (contending that the problem of sex trafficking must be addressed from an economic perspective by increasing the cost of doing the business of sex trafficking and by decreasing the economic benefits of this lucrative industry). This Comment extends Tiefenbrun's argument to the male clients of prostitutes as well, in that the cost (e.g., incarceration, fines) of engaging in commercial sexual exploitation must outweigh the benefits (e.g., physical pleasure, "cheap" sex) in order to change the men's behavior.

(12) Landesman, supra note 1. In discussing four Mexican girls who were trafficked: "They were sex slaves. [T]hese girls weren't working for profit or a paycheck. They were captives to the traffickers and keepers who controlled their every move." Id.

(13) DORCHEN LIEDHOLT, PROSTITUTION: A CONTEMPORARY FORM OF SLAVERY (2004), available at Liedholt defines slavery as "the domination and control by an individual or group over other individuals or groups through violence, the threat of violence, or a history of violence." Id. However, prostitution is different from "traditional forms of slave ownership in which the person enslaved was regarded as a capital investment, to be maintained and guarded over a long period of time" in that the owners of prostitutes often view the women as a "temporary, disposable commodity, to be consumed and discarded." Id.

(14) Landesman, supra note 1.

(15) Cynthia Sheperd Torg, Human Trafficking Enforcement in the United States, 14 TUL. J. INT'L & COMP. L. 503,505 (2006).


(17) See id. at 8. As an example, the economic collapse of Russia has resulted in a quarter of the Russian population living below the poverty level, and a surge in the number of trafficked women from Russia. Id. at 17-18. Despite the fact that 98% of the women are literate and many are highly trained professionals (e.g., doctors, professors, scientists, etc.), women account for two-thirds of those unemployed. Id. at 18. Driven by the economy, the collapse of Russian social services, market-based sex discrimination, and sexual harassment to leave Russia to seek jobs abroad, many women have unfortunately ended up in traffickers' networks and sold to strip clubs and escort services in the United States, primarily in the New York and New Jersey area. Id.

(18) Traffickers use four primary strategies for obtaining victims: (1) offering false promises of seemingly legitimate job opportunities such as nannying or waitressing (2) obtaining the victim's consent to work in the modeling, dancing, or sex industries but then forcing them to work in slave-like conditions (3) kidnapping, drugging, or forcing consent through psychological coercion and (4) purchasing women from family, husbands, or friends. Note, Remedying the Injustices of Human Trafficking Through Tort Law, 119 HARV. L. REV. 2574, 2576 (2006).

(19) See VICTOR MALAREK, THE NATASHAS 9-13 (2003).

(20) Kandathil, supra note 2, at 91-92.

(22) U.S. DEP'T OF STATE, TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 23 (2004), available at [hereinafter 2004 TIP REPORT] (stating 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year). But see AMY O'NEILL RICHARD, U.S. DEP'T OF STATE, INTERNATIONAL TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN TO THE UNITED STATES: A CONTEMPORARY MANIFESTATION OF SLAVERY AND ORGANIZED CRIME 3 (2000), available at &Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf (estimating that 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States every year). Some estimate that the number could be as high as 100,000. Shelley Case Inglis, Expanding International and National Protections Against Trafficking for Forced Labor Using a Human Rights Framework, 7 BUFF. HUM. RTS. L. REV. 55, 71 (2001). The most recent 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report did not report the numbers of victims trafficked into the United States, but it did report that approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders. U.S. DEP'T OF STATE, TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 8 (2007), available at 82902.pdf.

(23) Note, supra note 18, at 2590.

(24) Winston P. Nagan & Alvaro de Medeiros, Old Poison in New Bottles: Trafficking and the Extinction of Respect, 14 TUL. J. INT'L & COMP. L. 255, 256 (2006).

(25) Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 140.

(26) Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells, supra note 8, at 212.

(27) Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 126.


(29) MALAREK, supra note 19, at 57.

(30) Norma Hotaling & Leslie Levitas-Martin, Increased Demand Resulting in the Flourishing Recruitment and Trafficking of Women and Girls: Related Child Sexual Abuse and Violence Against Women, 13 HASTINGS WOMEN'S L.J. 117, 119 (2002).

(31) Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells, supra note 8, at 199.

(32) Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1466, 1466-69 (2001) [hereinafter TVPA 2000].

(33) Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells, supra note 8, at 215-16.

(34) See Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 141.

(35) See Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells, supra note 8, at 216.

(36) See generally Symposium, Human Trafficking in the United States: Expanding the Victim Protection Beyond Prosecution Witnesses, 16 STAN. L. & POL'Y REV. 379, 398-406 (2005) (noting that many trafficking victims live in a continuous state of fear of threats to their bodies and lives, and consequently suffer from chronic traumatic stress that profoundly impacts their personality and emotional and mental well-being).

(37) Nelson, supra note 8, at 555 see Janice G. Raymond, Prostitution on Demand: Legalizing the Buyers as Sexual Consumers, 10 VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 1156, 1170 (2004). Depending on the customers' or pimps' demand, women may have to service anywhere from ten to more than twenty customers each day. Id.

(38) Developments in the Law--The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 118 HARV. L. REV. 2180, 2185 (2005) [hereinafter Developments]. Some traffickers force victims to take drugs in order to debilitate them. MALAREK, supra note 19, at 19.

(39) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1174-75. Some buyers like violent or sadistic sexual acts including slashing, burning, or whipping the women. Id.

(40) Landesman, supra note 1.

(41) See Symposium, supra note 36, at 382. Child victims in particular also suffer from myriad psychological, neurological, growth, and development problems. Id.

(43) If. Post-traumatic stress syndrome can have lifelong debilitating effects. Id. at 398- 402.

(44) Landesman, supra note 1.

(45) See Anna Marie Gallagher, Triply Exploited: Female Victims of Trafficking Networks--Strategies for Pursuing Protection and Legal Status in Countries of Destination, 19 GEO. IMMIGR. L.J. 99, 99-100 (2004). Traffickers may exact retribution against women who are deported to their home countries or their families, as women who have returned to their hometown have been murdered in some cases. Id. In other cases, women who return to their home country are shunned by their community. See Vidyamali Samarasinghe, Confronting Globalization in Anti-Trafficking Strategies in Asia, 10 BROWN J. WORLD AFF. 91, 97 (2003) (noting that many cultures view prostitution as a "shameful and degenerate" occupation and assign blame to the victim).

(46) See MORRISON TORREY & SARA DUBIN, CONFERENCE REPORT: DEMAND DYNAMICS: THE FORCES OF DEMAND IN GLOBAL SEX TRAFFICKING 60 (2003), available at demand_dynamics.pdf. Images from popular culture and the media that glamorize and romanticize prostitution, lap dancing, and stripping have influenced popular perception that "prostitution is a victimless crime." HUGHES, supra note 9, at 2-3.

(47) Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 110.

(48) See discussion infra Part III.A-B.

(49) Nelson, supra note 8, at 569 see also 2000 Trafficking Protocol, supra note 4. Sex trafficking is not a new problem the International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic was enacted in 1904 to prohibit the procurement of women and girls for immoral purposes abroad. Tiefenbrun, Sex Sells, supra note 8, at 145. For a brief overview of all the international anti-trafficking conventions that have been passed since 1904 (including their key provisions), see, for example, Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 144-56 Corrigan, supra note 8, at 161-203 Nelson, supra note 8, at 557-70. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these conventions has been hampered by weak or non-existent enforcement mechanisms, ambiguous or undefined terms, lack of political will, and unrealistic or infeasible legal remedies. See Nelson, supra note 8, at 563-66.

(50) Nelson, supra note 8, at 570.

(51) 2000 Trafficking Protocol, supra note 4, at 2.

(52) Nelson, supra note 8, at 570.

(53) See 2000 Trafficking Protocol, art. 9, Provision 5, supra note 4, at 6-7 (emphasis added).

(54) See Raymond, supra note 37, at 1157 ("[T]here is meager legislation that penalizes the male customer. [T]he buyer has largely escaped examination, analysis, censure and penalty for his actions.").

(55) Prosecutors typically used one or a combination of laws prohibiting involuntary servitude, such as the Thirteenth Amendment, labor laws under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, laws regulating organized crime under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, civil rights laws, immigration laws, or laws regulating the sex industry. Corrigan, supra note 8, at 180-90. The White-Slave Traffic Act (also known as the "Mann Act") was enacted in 1910 and became the first federal anti-trafficking statute to address the problem of interstate prostitution of white women. Id. The Mann Act punishes traffickers who coerce or knowingly transport an individual into prostitution in interstate or international commerce convicted traffickers can be imprisoned a maximum of ten years. White-Slave Traffic (Mann) Act, ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825 (1910) (codified as 18 U.S.C. [section][section] 2421-2424 (1994)).

(56) Kandathil, supra note 2, at 96. Prosecutors disliked trafficking cases because the benefit of securing a conviction was grossly disproportionate to the cost of prosecution. Id. The cases tended to be very time-consuming and labor-intensive because they often involved many victims and the full-time devotion of numerous attorneys and prosecutors. Id. In addition, the ten-year statutory maximum penalty for convicted traffickers is disproportionately light compared to the maximum penalty of a life sentence for drug offenders the lucrative profits and minimum legal risks and penalties have provided a perversely huge incentive for more criminals to get into sex trafficking. Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 159.

(57) Developments, supra note 38, at 2188.

(58) TVPA 2000, supra note 32, at 1466-69.

(59) Id. [section] 106 (Prevention of Trafficking). These initiatives include (1) microcredit lending programs, training in business development, skills training, and job counseling (2) programs to promote women's participation in economic decision-making (3) programs to keep children, especially girls, in elementary and secondary schools, and to educate persons who have been victims of trafficking (4) development of educational curricula regarding the dangers of trafficking and (5) grants to nongovernmental organizations to accelerate and advance the political, economic, social, and educational roles and capacities of women in their countries. Id. [section] 106(a).

(60) Id. [section] 112 (Strengthening Prosecution and Punishment of Traffickers). If the violation involved attempted or actual murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse, or a minor under fourteen years old, the new penalty allows for life imprisonment. Id.

(61) Id. [section] 107 (Protection for Victims of Trafficking).

(63) Scholars initially applauded the new law's tough penalties against traffickers and its attempt to protect the victims through provision of social services and special visas. See Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 165 ("This new law is tough on sex traffickers and generous to victims of trafficking.") Nelson, supra note 8, at 578 ("As a comprehensive approach, the Trafficking Act promises to seriously diminish sex trafficking.").

(64) Chacon, supra note 8, at 3019-20.

(65) See, e.g., id. at 2978 (claiming that there is almost universal consensus that the TVPA has failed to make sufficient strides in addressing the problem of human trafficking domestically and internationally).

(66) Id. at 3019 (noting that the increased number of investigations, convictions, and T visas are dwarfed by the magnitude of the problem, even if one believes the conservative estimate that 14,000 individuals are trafficked into the United States every year).

(67) Id. at 3025. Chacon argues that the enforcement measure has been overemphasized while rehabilitative care for victims has been underemphasized. Id. For example, a victim of severe sex trafficking who is seeking a three-year legal residency through the T-visa must first comply with the reasonable request for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking in person. TVPA 2000 [section] 107(e)(1). To obtain permanent legal residency status upon expiration of her T-visa, she must cooperate with law enforcement or demonstrate that she would suffer "unusual and severe harm." Id.

(68) See Kandathil, supra note 2, at 111 (contending that the TVPA is neglecting an important dimension of the crime by failing to deal with the buyer-side of the crime and attach penalties to buyers).

(70) Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, Pub. L. No. 108-193, 117 Stat. 2875 (2003).

(72) Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-164, 119 Star. 3558 (2005) [hereinafter TVPRA 2005].

(73) Press Release, House of Representatives website, Rep. Smith's Trafficking Victims Protection Act to Become Law (Dec. 22, 2005), press/nj04_smith/prtraffickingsenatepassage.html (stating that "[f]or the first time, programs geared toward reducing the demand for commercial sex in the United States and preventing human trafficking of U.S. citizens within our own borders are authorized").

(74) TVPRA 2005, supra note 72, [section] 204.

(76) See Raymond, supra note 37, at 1160 (citing that male demand is the most immediate and proximate cause of the expanding sex trafficking industry).

(77) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at ix.

(78) This Comment recognizes that sex worker unions and pro-prostitution organizations have made arguments in favor of prostitution as "chosen" profession, and that there are women who do voluntarily choose to be prostitutes. However, even pore stars and prostitutes who supposedly engage in the sex trade industry "voluntarily" and defend the practice are often abused and controlled by pimps or domineering husbands or forced by economic constraints to engage in the industry. Id. at 4. Worn down by abuse and degradation and fear of their pimps, many women finally submit to their fate and that submission is erroneously viewed as their "consent" or "choice" to engage in the industry. See id. at 4-5. Although interesting and important issues, the moral, legal, and economic arguments regarding prostitution as a chosen profession is beyond the scope of this Comment. For different perspectives on prostitution, see PROSTITUTION AND SEX TRAFFICKING: OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS SERIES (Louise Gerdes ed., 2006). This Comment does not consider all female prostitutes "victims" necessarily as it recognizes that some women voluntarily choose to be sex workers. However, this Comment maintains that forced prostitution as a result of sex trafficking is not defensible morally or legally.

(79) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 24.

(80) See Cory Rennell, Saving the Youngest Workers: The Struggle Against the Southeast Asian Sex Trade, 26 HARV. INT'L REV. (2004), available at

(83) See BORTEL, supra note 4 (contending that male demands drive sex trafficking patterns, as sites of military conflict with heavy concentrations of male troops, such as Kosovo, are popular destinations for sex trafficking victims). In one study, a task force on sex trafficking found that 30% of international troops in the Balkans region had purchased sex acts from trafficked women and children. HUGHES, supra note 9, at 52. Similarly, the presence of U.S. military personnel in the Philippines and South Korea has "promote[d] and facilitate[d] the trafficking and exploitation of women." Id. at 55.

(84) Traffickers often target women or girls with certain age, racial, ethnic, and language characteristics based on the market in which they operate. For example, many brothels in the United States cater to men of one type of ethnic or racial background. See HUGHES, supra note 28, at 24.

(85) Melissa Farley, The Demand for Prostitution, Captive Daughters, (last visited June 13, 2008) see also Michelle R. Adelman, International Sex Trafficking: Dismantling the Demand, 13 S. CAL. REV. L. & WOMEN'S STUD. 387, 402 (2004). Similarly, men's desire for more pliable and exotic women also contributes to more trafficked women or mail-order brides from Russia and Asia. Id.

(86) See MALAREK, supra note 19, at 4-6.

(87) Landesman, supra note 1 see Sara K. Andrews, Comment, U.S. Domestic Prosecution of the American International Sex Tourist: Efforts to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation, 94 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 415, 422-23 (2004) (noting that the high demand in some cultures for sex with virgins--based on their youth, purity, and supposed lack of sexually transmitted diseases--has caused child prostitution to become more prevalent).

(88) Landesman, supra note 1. In a five-country study, 22% of the interviewed men preferred girls aged eighteen or under. BRIDGET ANDERSON & JULIA O'CONNELL DAVIDSON, IS TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS DEMAND DRIVEN?: A MULTI-COUNTY PILOT STUDY 19 (2003), available at Bridget/Anderson04.pdf?event=detail&id=2932.

(89) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 13.

(90) ANDERSON & DAVIDSON, supra note 88, at 11.

(91) Hotaling & Levitas-Martin, supra note 30, at 119.

(92) Stacey Antimone, Note, Sexual Trafficking: The United States' Response to a Growing International Problem, 24 SUFFOLK TRANSNAT'L L. REV. 149, 154 (2000).

(93) HUGHES, supra note 9, at ii.

(95) Id. at 6-7 (noting that statistics may also vary widely by region--for example, British men seem to be on the low end within Europe, while the number is as high as 39% in Spain).

(97) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1166.

(98) See id. at 1157 (criticizing the justification that "men will be men," thus the male urge to purchase commercial sexual acts should be unquestioned and legitimized).

(99) Samarasinghe, supra note 45, at 101.

(100) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1157. Trafficking victims often incur legal punishment, such as arrest, imprisonment, and possible deportation, as well as the psychic consequences of becoming sick, drug-addicted, unemployed, unemployable, and filled with shame and fear. Id. see also Joyce Koo Dalrymple, Human Trafficking: Protecting Human Rights in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 25 B.C. THIRD WORLD L.J. 451, 472 (2005) (noting that too often governments have treated victims as criminals and let traffickers go free).

(101) ANDERSON & DAVIDSON, supra note 88, at 58. For some men, the idea of buying sex from forced or coerced prostitutes is repulsive because having sex with a forced prostitute is a sexual turn-off. Id. at 25. It contradicts the men's fantasy that the prostitute loves him or enjoys the sex, and destroys the thin facade of emotional intimacy. Id.

(102) Id. at 58. The reality is no man is born wishing to buy commercial sexual services, yet through suggestive and sophisticated marketing techniques by the commercial sex industry, men are induced to believe that it would be pleasurable or desirable to pay a stranger for sex. Id.

(103) See HUGHES, supra note 28, at 24.

(104) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 56.

(107) ANDERSON & DAVIDSON, supra note 88, at 17-18.

(109) See John Bancroft, Biological Factors in Human Sexuality, 39 J. SEXUAL RES. 15 (2002) (stating that the human sexual experience is fundamentally tied to biological factors involved in sexual arousal and response).

(110) MALAREK, supra note 19, at 79.

(111) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 23 (noting one scholar defined a "john" as a man "who believes he is entitled by virtue of his gender and money to have sex on demand") see also MALAREK, supra note 19, at 79.

(112) MALAREK, supra note 19, at 79.

(113) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 53.

(114) Id. see also MALAREK, supra note 19, at 79.

(115) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 6.

(116) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 116.

(117) Barbara C. Kryszko & Janice G. Raymond, Good Practices: Targeting the Demand for Prostitution and Trafficking Chart, catw/readingroom.shtml?x=71327 (last visited Nov. 11, 2006).

(118) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 107.

(119) See Duncan Walker, Beer, Banter. and a Brothel (BBC television broadcast Oct. 3, 2006), available at

(121) RAYMOND & HUGHES, supra note 16, at 69.

(122) Id. Due to the ethnic diversity in the United States, customization of commercial sexual services based on ethnicity has proliferated. Brothels housing international women often cater to buyers from the women's ethnic communities. Id.

(126) A study of 1342 men arrested for soliciting prostitution found that johns have similar attitudes and misperceptions regarding prostitution and men's sexuality. See Noel Bridget Busch et al., Male Customers of Prostituted Women: Exploring Perceptions of Entitlement to Power and Control and Implications for Violent Behavior Toward Women, 8 VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 1093, 1101-04. (2002). For example, johns believe prostitution is not harmful and that prostitutes enjoy and choose their work. Id. at 1103.

(127) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 33. In contrast to the myths that prostitutes choose to be prostituted and that they enjoy their profession, researchers who interviewed 475 prostitutes across five countries found that the vast majority of them, ranging from 88% to 99%, said they wanted to leave prostitution. Melissa Farley et al., Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 8 FEMINISM & PSYCHOL. 405 (1998), available at In addition, 73% had been physically assaulted in prostitution. It is also a fallacy that prostitutes make a lot of money in reality, they rarely keep any of the money as their pimps will generally confiscate all their earnings. TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 4.

(128) Farley, supra note 85 (stating that johns like to demand sexual acts where they have 100% control over what happens) see also ANDERSON & DAVIDSON, supra note 88, at 24. One john stated that violence can ensue if the prostitute insists that the client uses condoms, and if there is violence, it is her fault. Id.

(129) ANDERSON & DAVIDSON, supra note 88, at 24-25.

(130) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 14.

(139) Id. In the same study, 22% of men had purchased sex up to four times this is the occasional buyer group. Id.

(140) Id. In one study, 86% of U.S. prostitutes endured physical violence by their buyers, 80% had experienced sexual assault, and 40% had been forced into sadistic sex. RAYMOND & HUGHES, supra note 16, at 75.

(141) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 14.

(142) Id. Habitual buyers constitute a disproportionate share of prostitution usage, and reducing their demand would have a more significant impact on reducing the overall supply of prostitutes. Id.

(147) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 27. In reference to buyers who buy child prostitutes in foreign countries but would never do so in their home countries, two researchers commented: "It is depressing how malleable most people are in terms of their morality in any market, and how quickly they can adjust to the practices that before they would have considered exploitative, provided that no one stopped them and others appeared to be behaving similarly." ANDERSON & DAVIDSON, supra note 88, at 42. Other studies have found that the more often men purchased sex acts, the more likely they were to accept the idea that sex is a commodity. HUGHES, supra note 9, at 16. Even more troubling, the more the men thought sex was a legitimate commodity, the more likely they had attitudes that justified violence against women, such as believing in rape myths (e.g., women are responsible for rapes, invite rapes, and are not hurt by them). Id.

(148) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 27 (finding the research results were true of both male and female subjects). Pornography is often a stepping stone for trafficked women who eventually end up in prostitution. Id. Analyzing the effect of pornography on sex trafficking is beyond the scope of this Comment however, an analysis of the effect of pornography on sex trafficking and prostitution can be found in Adelman, supra note 85, at 405-07.

(149) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 15.

(150) See Raymond, supra note 37, at 1157.

(151) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 9. Arguably, those with sexual addictions may be compelled to solicit prostitutes. However, relative to the trafficked and enslaved victim who is given the "choice" of engaging in prostitution or suffering torture/abuse by her pimp, the john has more freedom of choice. Moreover, as with any addition, the decision to fight and eliminate the addiction is ultimately up to the addicted person.

(152) See TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 95. The co-founder of an educational/rehabilitation school for johns noted that in her work with 6000 johns, she has found that men will change their behavior if they are given the correct message backed by severe consequences and they believe they have a lot to lose if they engage in prostitution. Id.

(155) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 23. Even assuming a utopian world where everyone had jobs and was financially secure, male demand for commercial sex would still result in the trafficking and prostitution of women and children. Id.

(156) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1178-79.

(159) Id. at 1179-80. The actual workshops with the young men began in March 2004. ld. at 1179. CATW Philippines intends to follow up with the men who have participated in the program for a period of five years. HUGHES, supra note 9, at 51. Based on the CATW website, this educational program appears to be ongoing in the Philippines, and a similar program has also been launched in Mexico. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Home Page, (last visited Feb. 7, 2008).

(160) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1180.

(164) See id. The CATW organizers are cautiously optimistic about the results of the program. See id. They are not suggesting that there was a mass conversion among the participants, but the male participants' feedback suggests that significant learning did occur and that consciousness-raising programs for men are an important tool in addressing the demand side. Id.

(165) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1180.

(167) Hotaling & Levitas-Martin, supra note 30, at 120. One of the co-founders of FOPP is Standing Against Global Exploitation ("SAGE"), an organization by and for survivors of abuse, prostitution and trauma. Id.

(172) Id. at 122. Most of the men are high sexual risk-takers in that they tend to have between five and ten sexual partners each year. Id. Interviews with prostitutes reveal that 30% to 50% of customers do not want to use condoms with their partners or prostitutes and would be willing to pay extra for sex without protection. Id. The FOPP participants' knowledge and attitudes about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV match those who enter the public health system for sexually transmitted diseases. Id.

(173) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 33.

(177) See id. at 39. One FOPP participant remarked that when he learned what the women went through when they were young, his perspective changed as he realized that "they have feelings, too, like everyone else." Id. Another said he will never be able to solicit the services of a prostitute without remembering the pain in the voices of the former prostitutes. Id.

(178) See Hotaling & Levitas-Martin, supra note 30, at 122.

(180) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 40.

(181) Id. at 39-40. In a survey conducted in the Toronto-based John School Diversion program, sex-trade veterans (also known as "habitual buyers"), defined as those who have bought sex acts five or more times in their life, made up 22% of the participants and they were significantly more likely to say they would continue to purchase sex acts. Id. In another study, 76% of habitual buyers said they would continue buying sex even after attending the john school. Id.

(182) Id. at 29. Several U.S. cities have implemented a car confiscation program for arrested johns. Id. at 29-30. In West Palm Beach for example, an arrested john must pay a $500 fee to retrieve his car. Id. at 29. He is then offered a plea agreement if he successfully completes john school and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, his sixty-day jail sentence can be reduced to time served. Id. These innovative enforcement measures have been challenged in court on the basis that the state's seizure of a john's vehicle violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, but the Supreme Court has thus far upheld this practice. See Bennis v. Michigan, 517 U.S. 1163 (1996) (upholding the majority opinion which defended the state's right to deter illegal activity by abating the Bennis automobile, which was used by Mr. Bennis to have sex with a prostitute).

(183) The Act is codified in 1997/98:55 (4) of the Violence Against Women Government Bill, which prohibits and penalizes the purchase of sexual services. See Janice G. Raymond, Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution: And a Legal Response to the Demand for Prostitution, 2 J. TRAUMA PRACTICE 315 (2003), available at catw/attach/Ten%20Reasons%20for%20Not%20Legalizing%20Prostitution.pdf. The law stipulates that anyone who buys sexual services is subject to a fine or statutory maximum imprisonment of six months. Id.

(184) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 25-26 (noting that focusing on the "breach of women's integrity" is a novel legislative policy that reflects a sophisticated and progressive understanding of the effects of repeated violations against women's integrity).

(185) See Raymond, supra note 183, at 10.

(186) Id. at 10-11. Promoting the anti-trafficking campaign at high-profile events such as the Solvalla Racetrack or through a nationwide poster campaign have been noted as one of the "most inventive best practices" to raise public awareness about the new law. Id. Many racing fans often celebrate their winnings at a brothel, so in 2000, the Solvalla racetrack dedicated its first race of the evening to the campaign against prostitution and trafficking. Id.

(187) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 26. Between 1999 and 2001, 249 men were charged under the Prohibition Act and seventy-seven were convicted. Id.


(190) Raymond, supra note 183, at 10.

(193) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 27.

(194) Id. at 26 (noting that the crackdown on street prostitution has made it necessary for pimps to escort the prostitutes to meet johns in various apartments or other indoor premises).

(197) See id. at 28. The author notes that the Swedish law and philosophy has positively influenced the attitudes of young people in the few years since the Prohibition Act has been in effect. Id.


(199) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 28.

(201) Id. at 27 (noting that critics contend that the bill would only force prostitution to go underground, thereby subjecting women to more violence).

(202) Samarasinghe, supra note 45, at 102. However, Sweden may have positively influenced its neighboring countries to adopt similar laws, as Finland passed a new law in October 2003 that criminalized the buying of sex services in public places. HUGHES, supra note 9, at 28. Previously, selling sex acts was illegal but purchasing them was not. Id.

(203) Moises Naim, Five Wars of Globalization, 18 AM. U. INT'L L. REV. 1, 16-17 (2002) (citing the war on trafficking as one of the five wars of globalization and noting that, as such, fighting it requires a global effort). Naim holds that given the "global nature of these wars . no government, regardless of its economic power, political influence, or military superiority, will make much progress acting alone." Id. at 15-16.


(205) MARY SULLIVAN, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PROSTITUTION BECOMES WORK? AN UPDATE ON LEGALIZATION OF PROSTITUTION IN AUSTRALIA 3 (2005), available at In some ways, Victoria is a more interesting case study than the Netherlands (which only lifted the ban on prostitution in 2000) because one can assess the long-term impact of prostitution in Victoria. Prostitution in the Netherlands, Wikipedia, Prostitution_in_the_Netherlands.

(206) SULLIVAN, supra note 205, at 3.

(207) Id. Whether legalization has led to safer sex is also questionable. With increased competition from the expansion of the industry, prostitutes are finding themselves at a bargaining disadvantage. See id. at 18-23. Clients tend to be extremely demanding, and even legal prostitutes often find themselves consenting to sexual acts they do not want to perform, such as anal or unprotected sex, in order to get a booking. Id.

(211) See id. at 15 (noting that, in a system of legalized prostitutes, trafficked women working in a licensed brothel are technically "legitimate workers" and police have little power to question them even if their situation is revealed, the women are charged as illegal immigrants and deported back home immediately).

(212) Id. Many recent cases of sexual slavery have involved legal brothels. In one case, a group of trafficked Thai women were indentured to pay off debts of 35,000 to 40,000 Australian dollars they were required to work six to seven days each week, servicing up to 500 buyers. Id. They were kept imprisoned in a squalid hotel, windows barred and shuttered from outside view. Id. For all their work, they never received a dime. Id.

(213) Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 147-48. Regulation of brothels marginalizes prostitutes and makes it virtually impossible for women to escape because they are viewed as deviants even by themselves. Id. see also TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 48 (reporting that former prostitutes are generally against legalization, believing that legislation will only serve as a shield for slavery).

(214) See Raymond, supra note 183, at 9. Raymond argues that legalization of prostitution "sanitizes the reality of prostitution" (e.g., the harms of prostitution to women who were forced into the trade), and transforms pimps into "legitimate businessmen and ordinary entrepreneurs" whose dirty money suddenly becomes clean money. Id. Decriminalization also lures men who would formerly not have considered purchasing a prostitute into thinking that if the practice is legal, "it must be ok." Id.

(215) SULLIVAN, supra note 205, at 5-6. In Victoria, sex-based industries are the financial equals of the top fifty publicly traded companies and are growing at 4.6% annually, higher than GDP. Id. at 5. Industry revenue has grown from A$1525 million in 1999 to A$1780 in 2004, representing a 17% increase. Id. The Australian government reaps significant tax revenues and licensing fees from the sex industry, which is a significant disincentive for the government to support any criminalization efforts. Id. See Adelman, supra note 85, at 407 (commenting that it is not a coincidence that a society which fosters sexual objectification of women is also one whose economy thrives on the legal commercial sex industry).

(216) SULLIVAN, supra note 205, at 6. Legalization has enabled the sex industry to become more mainstream. See Raymond, supra note 37, at 1162-64.

(217) See Raymond, supra note 183, at 3-4.

(218) PROSTITUTION AND SEX TRAFFICKING REPORT, supra note 5, at 1. To cite other examples, the Netherlands and Germany are two countries where prostitution is legal, yet both have experienced higher rates of women illegally trafficked into the country for prostitution. Tiefenbrun, Saga, supra note 8, at 147 see also Raymond, supra note 183, at 2 (noting that in the Netherlands, since lifting the ban on brothels, eight Dutch victim support organizations reported an increase in the number of trafficking victims. One report found that 80% of the women in the Netherlands brothels were trafficked from other countries, predominantly Central and Eastern Europe. Similarly, it was found that 75% of the prostitutes in Germany were poor women from South America thus it is unlikely the women could have migrated to Germany on their own).

(219) See Alex Y. Seita, The Role of Market Forces in Transactional Violence, 60 ALB. L. REV. 635, 640 (1997).

(220) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 1-2. The transnational flow of the global sex trade often starts in the sending countries where poverty, unemployment, or political instability often forces victims to seek work and opportunities in other countries. Id. at 1. There are actually three components of demand, all of which work together to support and promote sex trafficking. Id. at 2. The johns who purchase sex acts are the primary actors and thus the primary component of demand. Id. The second component of demand are the profiteers-including the pimps, traffickers, brothel owners, and corrupt officials--who make money from sex trafficking and prostitution. Id. The third component of demand is the culture and media which indirectly creates a demand for victims by normalizing, romanticizing, or glamorizing prostitution. Id.

(221) Developments, supra note 38, at 2185.

(222) See generally U.S. DEP'T OF STATE, 2006 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT (2006), available at

(223) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 1-2.

(224) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1157.

(225) HUGHES, supra note 9, at 51.

(226) Car confiscations, public "outings" on local TV stations or the internet, or increased financial penalties or jail time are other measures that can be used to increase the costs of prostitution for the johns. Id. at 29.

(227) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at ix.


(230) SULLIVAN, supra note 205, at 4 see, e.g., Raymond, supra note 37, at 1163. Legalization has engendered a culture of increased tolerance for prostitution in Victoria, which has had the effect of vastly increasing the demand and thus increasing sex trafficking as a steady flow of girls and women are need to fulfill the demand. SULLIVAN, supra note 205, at 4. Indeed, legalization of prostitution has only served to drastically increase the illegal sex trade Victoria has an extensive illegal prostitution trade despite the fact that prostitution has been illegal since 1984. Id. at 13.

(231) Raymond, supra note 37, at 1164 see also supra note 220.

(232) See HUGHES, supra note 9, at 31-35.

(234) Id. In addition to significantly lower recidivism rates, johns who attended the schools were more likely to accept responsibility for their actions, more likely to admit they have a sex addiction, and less likely to report favorable attitudes towards prostitution. Id. at 39.

(235) In June 2007, the State Department launched the second annual "Summer of Anti Trafficking in Persons Movie" outreach program. Eric Green, State Department Offers Film Program on Trafficking in Persons, June 8, 2007, washfile-english/2007/June/20070608130830X1eneerg0.3753168.html. U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide arranged screenings of several films that vividly display the evils of trafficking in persons. Id. The Trafficking in Persons film outreach program received a "tremendous response" from foreign audiences and has been "very effective" at raising awareness of the trafficking issue. Id.

(236) Raymond, supra note 183, at 10-11.


(238) Because Sweden is no longer considered a good market for trafficking, other markets such as Denmark, Germany, Holland, and Spain have become more attractive to traffickers. HUGHES, supra note 9, at 27.

(239) MALAREK, supra note 19, at 5.

(240) Based on her travels around the world, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has noted a greater desire by other countries to fight the trafficking problem and to protect its victims. Eric Green, Public Awareness of Human Trafficking Increasing, Rice Says, June 12, 2007, available at human_trafficking_archive.html. She also noted that the United States is helping to lead a global movement "not just to confront this crime, but to abolish it." Id.

(241) TORREY & DUBIN, supra note 46, at 15.

(242) See Raymond, supra note 37, at 1157.

(243) George W. Bush, U.S. President, Address to the United Nations General Assembly (Sept. 23, 2003) (transcript available at releases/2003/09/20030923-4.html).

(247) See Landesman, supra note 1.

IRIS YEN, JD-MBA, May 2008, Northwestern University School of Law and Kellogg School of Management. I would like to thank my family, friends, and Professor Len Rubinowitz for their strong encouragement, careful review, and thoughtful comments.

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