History has shown that the law has more often targeted prostitutes instead of consumers, preventing victims from getting their due in justice, but since the upgrade to the law regarding prostitution in Massachusetts, Boston consumers are finally paying the right price.
All around the world, even in the United States, many women who are trafficked are forced into this modern-day slavery through drugs or violence, chained to their captors by their addiction and fear. These women are trapped into soliciting themselves through threat of beatings, deportation when applicable, and drug withdrawal. While there are some people who choose to prostitute themselves, those who are forced into the lifestyle are arrested without discernment. Of the ones involved and caught by law enforcement, only 10 percent of them are customers.
After the upgrades to the law, the city of Boston teamed up with Demand Abolition, an organization based in Cambridge that is dedicated to preventing prostitution by means of targeting consumer behavior and motivation. The oldest profession in the world ties with illegal arms dealing as one of the top three world’s most profitable businesses. By the law of supply and demand, they believed that an economical attack would be more effective on curbing human trafficking. Demand Abolition determined that a combination of severe consequences and better education could help design better policies that could effectively discourage the common buyer.
In order to understand the demand, they conducted surveys with 200 men in Boston, half of whom admitted to purchasing sex. They discovered that most buyers and non-buyers could be deterred from prostitution if their social status were compromised from such as being labeled a registered sex offender. The ideology that separated the buyer from the non-buyer is that the buyer had a higher tendency to commit crimes such as assault or substance abuse, and is more likely to sexually coerce women or even rape women, and was capable of justifying his behavior with the belief that prostitutes were essentially different from other women. While more buyers had less respect for women, two thirds of both non-buyers and buyers knew a majority of them were unfairly dragged into prostitution. One interviewed non-buyer described it like someone jumping from a burning building – it was their choice to jump but “you could see that life circumstances had kind of forced her into that.”
Thankfully, most of these men shared possible solutions that would deter them from purchasing sex. As many of them have reputations to uphold, jobs to keep, and possibly even significant others or family members they want to protect, these men commented that increased fines, public recognition for prostitution, better education about the trauma trafficked women experience, and jail time could be a effective deterrent. While the law has not made much effect in the past few years since it was established, there is hope of reform made evident through the trial and conviction of the Roxbury men back in February 2014. With these upgraded findings targeting behaviors and attitudes of men, Demand Abolition and the city of Boston has high hopes of preventing consumer demand for prostitution on their streets by 20 percent in a couple of years.
By Sophia Bien