STOP Traffick! Tackling Demand for Sexual Services of Trafficked women and Girls
Transnational initiative focusing on the prevention of human trafficking by reducing the demand for exploitation of female victims of trafficking through prostitution.
STOP Traffick! Tackling Demand for Sexual Services of Trafficked women and Girls was a EU-funded transnational project led by the Immigrant Council of Ireland from 2012-2014. It focused on the prevention of human trafficking by reduction in demand that fosters the exploitation of female victims of trafficking through prostitution.
This project explored different attitudes of buyers and potential buyers to human trafficking, in order to inform demand reduction awareness raising initiatives, implemented through a partnership of civil society, public and private enterprises. The project also targeted employers to pilot the demand reduction strategy as part of their corporate responsibility. It developed a toolkit of products and activities to raise awareness among buyers and potential buyers of services delivered by human trafficking victims in the sex industry, in order to reduce demand for purchase of sexual services.
The project was implemented in collaboration with the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation (BGRF), Klaipeda Social and Psychological Services Centre (KSPC), Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS), MONICA –Multicultural Women’s Association of Finland.
The research into buyers of sex was based on mixed research methodologies. The data collection combined quantitative and qualitative methods. In total 763 buyers of sex participated in either in-depth interviews or an online survey in the five countries (71 face-to-face interviews in two countries and 692 qualified online survey responses out of a total of 2,004 responses received in the rest of the countries). A Research Ethics Framework was drawn up to protect the anonymity of interviewees and to ensure that no safety or security risks existed for interviewers or respondents.
The main findings are as follows:
- Purchase of sex is a highly gendered activity: buyers are men and the sellers are women.
- The average buyer is a man, most likely in a relationship or married, of relatively high social standing with middle to high income, most likely employed and with high level of education.
- Significant number of buyers demonstrated some knowledge of human trafficking as a crime and as a phenomenon.
- First-time experiences of purchasing sex take place at a relatively young age and in a spontaneous and unplanned way, often with a group of friends and, in some cases, under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
- The vast majority of buyers purchased sex online and in indoors as opposed to street prostitution.
- Most buyers reported viewing sellers of sex as being different from other women.
- Nearly one third of the buyers reported that they had encountered exploitation in prostitution or sellers who are minors but a markedly lower number considered reporting this to the police. Overall, a large proportion of respondents avoided answering this question
- Research showed that it is unlikely buyers consider the possibility that a seller may be a victim of trafficking when purchasing sex.
- Research showed the purchase of sex becomes more entrenched over time, with more frequent buyers exhibiting an increased sense of entitlement, dehumanisation of the seller and desire for control.
- Younger men infrequent buyers demonstrated higher levels of empathy with potential victims.
- Criminal sanctions, public exposure in the local media or internet and letters of disclosure sent to a buyer’s family were all identified by buyers as having a strong deterrent force.
The notable products developed by this project include:
- Report on Tackling Demand for Sexual Services of Trafficked Women and Girls by Dr Nusha Yonkova and Dr Edward Keegan and summary report
- Stop Traffick! Case Studies
- Stop Traffick! Toolkit for demand reduction
- Video: EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ms Cecilia Malmstrom welcoming the report
- Paper: Deconstructing the Demand for Sexual Services by Dr Venla Roth, National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Finland
With the financial support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme European Commission – Directorate-General Home Affairs.