Survivors of Sex Trafficking Call on the UN to Respond To Their Concerns

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“We are concerned that the root cause of sex trafficking, the demand for commercial sex, is not being addressed. Prevention should be wrapped around creating laws that significantly punish sex buyers and facilitators. A recent report prepared for the National Institute of Justice states that “[t]he illicit markets of prostitution and sex trafficking are, like any other markets, driven by demand. Wherever demand occurs, supply and distribution emerge…it is indisputable that removing or reducing demand reduces or eliminates markets. The need for people to provide a ‘supply’ and for pimps/traffickers to ‘distribute’ the supply to buyers would not exist without demand.”

Without the buyers of commercial sex, sex trafficking would not exist. If we start penalizing and stigmatizing the buyers we could end sex trafficking in our lifetime.1 Prostitution is not a victimless crime; it is a brutal form of sexual violence.”

-- This text is excerpted from a letter signed by 177 verified sex trafficking survivors. (For further information see: Sex Trafficking Survivors United)

Equality Now and 97 anti-trafficking organizations worldwide, many of which are survivor-led, are gravely concerned about two 2012 reports released with the backing of the United Nations (UN) which are being seen as official UN policy. These reports not only make recommendations in direct opposition to international human rights standards, but also largely ignore the experiences and views of survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking. They also call for the decriminalization of pimping, brothel-keeping and the purchase of sex.

Though UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé stated in December 2013 that his organization “is not advocating for the decriminalization of pimping or brothel ownership,” UNAIDS and other UN agencies continue to be referenced as calling for the full decriminalization of the commercial sex industry, including the inherently exploitative practices of pimping and brothel-keeping.

We need your help! Join us in calling on UNAIDS to #ListenToSurvivors and take a strong stand against the exploitation of women and girls in prostitution.

On 26 February 2014, the European Parliament took a stand and adopted the groundbreaking Honeyball resolution which targets the demand that is fueling sex trafficking, while decriminalizing and supporting those in prostitution, in line with the Nordic Model.  This supports the mounting evidence that decriminalization and legalization, especially of the inherently exploitative practices of pimping and brothel-keeping, do not effectively protect people in prostitution, improve their situation or safeguard their human rights.

TAKE ACTION today:

1. Sign our petition to ensure that efforts to prevent trafficking are not jeopardized. 

2. Create a groundswell of support by tweeting the following messages:

@MaryHoneyball's excellent Euro Parl #EndDemand resolution adopted by huge majority. #ListenToSurvivors @UNAIDS @MichelSidibe @UN_Women

@MichelSidibe @UNAIDS: Europe working to #EndDemand, not legalize it. EuroParl adopted @MaryHoneyball resolution for gender eq & hum rights

@MichelSidibe #ListenToSurvivors – don’t jeopardize efforts to prevent sex trafficking http://www.equalitynow.org/take_action/sex_trafficking_action511 #EndSexTrafficking #EndDemand

(You can also retweet our messages from @equalitynow)


1. Max Waltman, “Prohibiting Sex Purchasing and Ending Trafficking: The Swedish Prostitution Law,” 33 Michigan J. Int’l L. 133 (2011).