The fact remains: if there were no demand for commercial sex, trafficking in persons for commercial sexual exploitation would not exist in the form it does today. This reality underscores the need for continued strong efforts to reduce demand for sex trafficking by enacting policies and promoting cultural attitudes that reject the idea of paying for sex. If paying for sex is prohibited for those who work for, or do business with, a government, the ripple effects could be far-reaching. Through their massive procurement, governments have an impact on a wide range of private-sector actors, and policies banning the purchase of sex could in turn reach a significant part of the private sector as well.
Strong policies are critical for ridding countries of all forms of modern slavery, but ultimately for encouraging a broader cultural shift in order to make meaningful progress in reducing demand for sex trafficking. This can only be achieved by rejecting long-held notions that regard commercial sex as a “boys will be boys” phenomenon, and instead sending the clear message that buying sex is wrong. Lawmakers have the power to craft effective anti-trafficking legislation, but they also have a responsibility to represent values that do not tolerate abuses of commercial sex.