Stephanie M. Berger, “No End in Sight: Why the End demand Movement is the Wrong Focus for Efforts to Eliminate Human Trafficking” 35 Harvard Journal of Law & Gender 523 (2012).
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There is no dispute that human trafficking is a pervasive problem. The International Labor Organization and the United States State Department estimate that there are more than 12 million people in “forced labor and sexual servitude” worldwide. The State Department estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually. Sex trafficking, specifically, undoubtedly occurs in the United States — all one needs to do is read the local newspaper to find horrific accounts of women and children enslaved and abused in major cities across the country. However, there is no way to know exactly how many trafficking victims in general and sex trafficking victims specifically exist in the United States, in part due to the United States’ problematic conflation of human trafficking and prostitution. This conflation has enshrined the ideals of abolitionist feminists, who believe that prostitution is inherently coercive and abusive, and has refused to acknowledge the pro-work position that views prostitution on a spectrum including both forced and voluntary sex work. Abolitionist ideals have most recently taken hold in End Demand efforts, which focus on criminalizing, punishing, and shaming men who buy sex as purported solutions to both prostitution and human trafficking. This Article takes a pro-work position and aims to demonstrate the potential harms of End Demand policies. It also proposes more productive methods for addressing human trafficking in the United States.