Webcast Recap

The Demand Dynamics of Sex Trafficking Speaker Series, a collaborative effort between the Woodrow Wilson Center and Hunt Alternatives Fund, raises awareness of the global phenomenon of sex trafficking among policymakers and the public. The United Nations estimates that approximately 80 percent of the roughly 2 million individuals enslaved each year are forced or coerced into the sex industry. Victims are bought and sold within and across borders through sophisticated criminal networks to satisfy the growing demand from buyers. Although it is critical to rescue the victims (the supply) and punish the perpetrators (the distribution), the sex trade will only end when the demand for purchased sex is eliminated. This series brings distinguished speakers to explore the far-reaching effects of the sex industry on individuals and communities and to examine best practices to eradicate the demand for commercial sex.

At the May 12, 2009 inaugural event of the speaker series, "Combating Sex Trafficking by Eliminating the Demand," Ambassador Swanee Hunt, President of Hunt Alternatives Fund, moderated a discussion between Victor Malarek, investigative reporter and author of The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It, the Honorable Linda Smith, President and Founder of Shared Hope International, and Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, former US Ambassador-at-Large for Modern-Day Slavery. The panelists examined the individuals and organizations that foster and drive the sex trade, highlighting national and international best practices to eradicate the demand for sex trafficking.

Lina Nealon, Program Manager for Demand Abolition, a program of Hunt Alternatives Fund moderated the March 9 panel "Legislative Trials and Triumphs in Combating Demand for Commercial Sex." Taina Bien-Aime, Executive Director of Equality Now, Samir Goswami, Policy Director at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and Eleanor Gaetan Kennelly, Legislative Advisor for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and former Public Outreach Director for the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking explored the challenges and successes in passing anti-demand legislation at the state and federal levels. Examples included the New York Safe Harbour Act, actions against New York sex tourist company Big Apple Tours, the Illinois Predator Accountability Act of 2006, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Acts, particularly those of 2005 and 2008.

The next meeting in the series will take place in late May. Please check back for details.