March 9: Legislative Trials and Triumphs in Combating Demand for Commercial Sex

From 3:00-4:30pm on March 9 (US Eastern time), The Comparative Urban Studies Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will make available a live webcast of conduct its second discussion in the Demand Dynamics of Sex Trafficking Speaker Series co-sponsored by Hunt Alternatives Fund. To learn more about this event or to attend in person in Washington, DC, please email or call 202-691-4289.

This event was originally scheduled for a live webcast, but it appears the webcast slot at the Woodrow Wilson Center has been assigned to another event. We do expect to be able to make a video recording of this event available later in March.

Legislative Trials and Triumphs in Combating Demand for Commercial Sex

Taina Bien-Aime, Executive Director, Equality Now; Eleanor Gaetan, Legislative Advisor, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women; Samir Goswami, Policy Director, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation; Ambassador Swanee Hunt, President, Hunt Alternatives Fund

The panelists in this second meeting of the Demand Dynamics of Sex Trafficking Speaker Series will discuss legislative efforts to stifle the demand for commercial sex. Taina Bien-Aime will discuss legislation in New York, including the Safe Harbour Act and action against Big Apple Tours; Samir Goswami will focus on the Illinois Predator Accountability Act and the End Demand Illinois Campaign; and Eleanor Gaetan will explore federal legislation, particularly the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Acts of 2005 and 2008.

Taina Bien-Aimé is the Executive Director of Equality Now, an international human rights advocacy organization that works to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. With offices in New York, Nairobi and London, issues of concern to Equality Now include rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, reproductive rights, trafficking in women and other forms of human rights abuses affecting women. Bien-Aimé was also Director of Business Affairs/Film Acquisitions at HBO and practiced international corporate law at the Wall Street firm, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. For close to two decades, Bien-Aimé has provided expert commentary on women’s rights, including sex trafficking, on print media, television, and radio, including the New York Times, AP, Reuters, CNN, NPR, The Glenn Beck Show, and numerous other national and international media outlets. Taina contributed essays to “Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female,” edited by Willa Shalit (Hyperion, 2006). Bien-Aimé is also a contributor to The Huffington Post. Taina holds a Juris Doctor from NYU School of Law and a Licence in Political Science from the University of Geneva and the Graduate School of International Studies, Switzerland.

Eleanor Kennelly Gaetan, Ph.D., served for over five years, 2003-2009, as Senior Coordinator of Public Outreach for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. She was senior editor of five Trafficking in Persons Reports and managed congressional relations, including passage of two reauthorizations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, in 2005 and 2008. Explaining the intrinsic connection between prostitution and sex trafficking was one critical theme around which she developed public education materials at the State Department. Before joining State, she was Senior Democracy Advisr at USAID/Romania where human trafficking was in her portfolio among other democracy issues. Eleanor currently serves as legislative adviser to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). Eleanor holds a Ph.D. in comparative politics from University of Maryland and a BA from Yale University.

Samir has extensive organizing, media advocacy and public policy advocacy experience on the issues of criminal justice reform, workforce development, affordable housing and sexual and domestic violence prevention. He currently leads the End Demand, Illinois Campaign a grassroots effort to transform the state’s response to prostitution and sex trafficking. While he was on the policy staff at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (1999 – 2008), he founded the Prostitution Alternatives Round Table and organized survivors of prostitution, community based and social service organizations, faith based institutions and worked with corrections, city, county and state officials and law makers to advocate for policy reforms to assist persons involved in prostitution and trafficking.

Samir Goswami was a lead advocate in passage of the 2002 Cook County Residential Treatment and Transition Center for Women (ILPA 92-0806), the 2003 Criminal Record Sealing Act (ILPA 93-1084) and the 2007 First Offender Probation Act (ILPA 95-0255). Samir was also the lead lobbyist and organizer for the Predator Accountability Act, (ILPA 94-0998) and assisted in successful legislative, organizing and media advocacy towards creating the 2005 Rental Housing Support Act (ILPA 94-0118) and the 1999 Homelessness Prevention Act which have resulted in millions more state dollars for the creation of affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs in Illinois. Samir is a 2010 Chicago Community Trust Fellow, a 2010 Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Award Honoree and a recipient of BPI’s 40 Who’ve Made a Differnce Award. Samir is a board member of Career Advancement Network and Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers.

Amb. Swanee Hunt, Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard, chairs the Washington-based Institute for Inclusive Security, which conducts research, training, and advocacy to integrate women into peace processes worldwide. She is core faculty at the Center for Public Leadership and senior advisor to the Carr Center for Human Rights Public Policy and its Initiative to Stop Human Trafficking, both at the Kennedy School of Government. President of Hunt Alternatives Fund, author and activist, Dr. Hunt has drawn international attention to modern-day slavery. From 1993 to 1997, she served as President Clinton’s ambassador to Austria, when she hosted negotiations to end the Balkan war and led the US delegation to the EU conference on trafficking.

See also:

Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

Abolishing Prostitution: The Swedish Solution – An Interview with Gunilla Ekberg by the Rain and Thunder Collective 

Hunt Alternatives Fund: Demand Abolition

Why Do Johns Buy Sex?

Dorchen Leidholdt, “Demand and the Debate”
Unlike prostituted women and girls, prostitution customers do have choices to make. And when they see that choosing to buy women devastates lives and threatens their own freedom and social standing, they make different choices… “‘John schools’ try to change attitudes about paid sex”

Guardian: “Why men use prostitutes” (1/15/10)
… most of them told the researchers that they would be easily deterred if the current laws were implemented. Fines, public exposure, employers being informed, being issued with an Asbo [Anti-Social Behaviour Order] or the risk of a criminal record would stop most of the men from continuing to pay for sex. Discovering the women were trafficked, pimped or otherwise coerced would appear not to be so effective. Almost half said they believed that most women in prostitution are victims of pimps (“the pimp does the ­psychological raping of the woman,” explained one). But they still continued to visit them…

Half of the interviewees had bought sex outside of the UK, mostly in Amsterdam, and visiting an area where prostitution is legal or openly advertised had given them a renewed dedication to buying sex when they returned to the UK… 

How to Deter Johns from Buying Sex
…some 89% would stop using prostitutes if “named and shamed” on the sex offenders’ register.