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"Sex buyers are the driving force behind all sex trafficking and prostitution. Without the buyers’ currency, these industries wouldn’t exist." –Autumn Burris, Founder of Survivors For Solutions

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Human trafficking operates under market principles of supply and demand. The incentive is to make profit. Basic economics tells us that the higher the demand for a good or service, the higher the supply of that good or service needs to be to fulfill that demand. Labor trafficking thrives on the demand for cheap goods and forced labor that will make production costs cheaper. Sex trafficking relies on the demand for prostitution. Pimps and traffickers sell overwhelmingly women and girls to men for sexual acts. Without sex buyers, who are almost always men, pimps, traffickers and other third-party exploiters wouldn’t have a market through which to commercially sexually exploit human beings. Demand sustains the sex trade and fuels sex trafficking.

The overwhelming majority of prostituted women and girls around the world are of color, from disenfranchised communities, homeless or in the care of the state, of low socio-economic class or caste, have histories of sexual abuse, incest and sexual violence, and lack choices and alternatives in life. The men who buy them, however, have the disposable income to purchase them for prostitution. In addition to being powered by sex and gender inequalities, the sex trade also thrives on economic, racial and ethnic discrimination.

Demand is at the core of all types of human trafficking. Without demand there would be no need for an illicit supply procured by traffickers. International law recognizes this through Article 9.5 of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol and calls on states to develop legal and policy measures that will work to end the demand that leads to human trafficking in all its forms.

We will only be able to end the sale and purchase of women and girls for sexual exploitation by targeting the male demand for prostitution. This will shrink the market, removing profit incentives that drive sex traffickers and preventing the exploitation of more women and girls in the sex trade. Ultimately, the long-term end goal is to eliminate the harm perpetuated by the sex trade by ending the trade itself.

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