Redefining Prostitution Law

CATW advocates for strong laws and policies on local, national, and international levels to prevent women and girls from becoming victims of human trafficking.
CATW supports the Nordic Model, the world's first law to recognize prostitution as violence against women and a violation of human rights. It criminalizes the purchase of commercial sex and offers the exploited an exit strategy.

CATW presents standing room only panels on sex trafficking related issues, policies, and strategies as part of the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held at the United Nations in New York. CATW presents joint NGO statements to government delegates and other participants as well as oral interventions condemning policies and practices that tolerate and profit from the sexual commodification of women and girls.


  • To create the cultural, political and legal conditions where human trafficking is no longer tolerated.
  • To create a shift in engagement towards a greater public understanding that prostituted women and girls are not criminals but are the most exploited among us.
  • To challenge acceptance of the sex industry, normalization of prostitution as work, and counter legalization initiatives throughout the world.
  • To strengthen anti-trafficking laws and policies by: 1) making the connection between prostitution and sex trafficking; 2) countering the trend to legalize/decriminalize sex industries; 3) promoting legislative, criminal justice and NGO efforts to discourage the demand for prostitution.
  • To develop an action alert response that allows CATW and partner NGOs to intervene in public forums on legalization initiatives, and to consult with and educate legislators who may be the process of voting on prostitution law reform bills.


CATW-Australia holds conferences, advises policymakers and meets with legislators throughout the region and in Western Australia advocating against legalization of the sex industry. CATWA promotes the Nordic Model by calling attention to the harms of prostitution and publishes works about the effects of legalization and the role of organized crime in the sex industry.

CATW partners with numerous women's groups and human rights advocates throughout Canada to fight the legalization of prostitution and urge the Ontario Superior Court to reverse its decision to void Canada's anti-prostitution laws. CATW is advocating for legislation against the demand for commercial sexual exploitation by vigorously supporting the passage of the Nordic Model.

CATW has been working for over 10 years preparing the way for the passage of legislation against the demand for prostitution in France. Proposals for the law are currently being drawn and debated before Parliament in 2012.

In West Africa, Enslavement Prevention Alliance—West Africa  (EPAWA) is in the forefront of combating human trafficking by providing local and international awareness about the affects of prostitution and trafficking in Ghanaian society.
EPAWA conducts investigations and rescue operations, victim protection planning, and shelter management. EPAWA provides training to law enforcement, immigration, media, civil society, academic institutions, and the health sector on various aspects of human trafficking.
EPAWA partners with local organizations in Africa to create national campaigns to educate and mobilize government agencies on behalf of victims, encouraging the creation of infrastructure and to effect policies and education in order to find solutions to human trafficking.

The Temple Committee Against Human Trafficking (Montreal) collaborates with ATZUM Task Force on Human Trafficking in Israel. The Temple Committee supports a Nordic Model inspired bill proposed by Member of Knesset Orit Zuaretz, which would criminalize the buying of sex. The Temple Committee and our network of North American partners, have opposed the closing of the Sa'ar Police Unit which specializes in prostitution cases. Our recent letter campaign provided enormous support for MK Zuaretz and the future of the Sa'ar Unit. That future is yet undetermined; however, we believe that our influence and the hard work of our Israeli partners will ensure that this unit continues to operate with a focus on prostitution. Whenever we are called upon, we collaborate with our Israeli partners in advancing the abolitionist movement to end prostitution in Israel just as we do at home.

In Mexico, CATW-LAC in collaboration with the Special Commission Against Trafficking in Persons of the Federal Chamber of Deputies and the Center for Advancement of Women and Gender Equity, drafted an abolitionist law that includes a sanction addressing the demand, as well as a sanction against the promotion and publication of advertisements promoting commercial sex. It addresses the crimes of trafficking, slavery and exploitation of labor, forced begging, prostitution or any form of sexual exploitation, forced marriages, servitude, trafficking in organs, tissues or its components, etc., with sanctions from 25 to 70 years of imprisonment when the victim is killed. CATW-LAC has drawn from participation in three forums, innumerous meetings and discussions, as well as a review of the UNDOC Guide, "Best Practices for Protection of Victims of Organized Crime" and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, and other documents to draft this law.

The drafting of this law is extremely significant because it is modeled after the abolitionist Nordic Model and can be adopted in countries utilizing the Roman Law System.

CATW-LAC is highly active in law and policy reform on the national, regional and international level with a strong commitment to legal protections for victims of prostitution and trafficking. CATW-LAC is working with local partners throughout the entire LAC region to include sanctions to address the demand in country legislation.

CATW-LAC developed an online Postgraduate Diploma on Access to Justice and Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation. Designed for law enforcement officials, this course provides information on the international and domestic legal tools available to combat human trafficking. This course also addresses victims and their needs while analyzing the demand for prostitution that fuels trafficking.

The Women's Front (WF) is an independent women's organization in Norway, founded in 1972. The Women's Front works with international organizations against genital mutilation, trafficking and prostitution. WF supports women's projects run by local women's organizations in Africa, Latin America and in Asia, providing funding and political support for women's reproductive rights, economic independence and survival strategies. WF advocates on the international and national political levels, campaigning for criminalizing of the buyers of sexual activities, presenting papers about prostitution, human trafficking, legalization and the harms of the global sex industry. In 2009, Norway joined Sweden in passing ground- breaking legislation, the world's first law to recognize prostitution as violence against women and a violation of human rights. The Nordic Model criminalizes the purchase of commercial sex and offers women and children an exit strategy.

CATW-South Africa/Embrace Dignity was founded to initiate a public dialogue in South Africa on prostitution and sex trafficking from a women's rights perspective, and to advocate for public support of legislation that protects the rights of women to live in dignity, freedom from harm, exploitation and sexual violence. Embrace Dignity provides input and recommendations for law reform to promote the Nordic Model, eliminate the demand for prostitution, and to create effective exit strategies for women and girls. Embrace Dignity presented a petition to the South African Parliament before a debate of the law on trafficking in an effort to curb sex trafficking during the World Cup Games in 2010.

CATW continues our comprehensive legal and policy reform that includes measures to end the demand. We work to strengthen the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA), the federal anti-trafficking law in the United States, which is used as model legislation around the world. CATW holds meetings with key legislators in Washington D.C. urging them to continue reauthorization of the bill to strengthen it along the lines of the House bill 3887, making this a strong prosecutorial instrument.

CATW is co-leading an initiative to get New York Police Department, the largest municipal police force in the US, to stop arresting the wrong people and to begin arresting the johns.