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End Demand Fact Sheet    

A coalition of advocates and sex worker rights organizations have produced materials critiquing "end demand" style programming. Proponents of "end demand"-style programming such as "John's Schools" or increased arrest of clients of prostitution, claim that the measures only punish the men who purchase sex and protect women who sell sex. However, programs working with sex workers across the United States have found that intensive "end demand" programs increase law enforcement activities against all people in public space. Furthermore, these programs allow conservatives to channel hard won social service funding into policing efforts. This downloadable fact sheet cites research that illustrates the real results of "end demand" programming. We were able to do this analysis and produce these fact sheets via a grant from the Urgent Action Fund in early 2006. Groups involved in developing analysis of changes in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act include: the Desiree Alliance, Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA (SWOP-USA), the Woodhull Foundation, Bayswan, Best Practices Policy Project and local service providers in the District of Columbia. Below is the fact sheet. You can download the fact sheet here as a Word document. You can view the text of the End Demand legislation here. You can download the End Demand legislation here as a Word document.

Initiatives to “end demand” for prostitution harm women and undermine service programs

The Bush Administration is aggressively pushing the idea of ending demand for prostitution, claiming that programs oriented toward an “end to demand” are evidence- and rights-based, protecting “vulnerable” women and girls exploited by men. For example in December 2005 new provisions about “ending demand for commercial sexual services” were incorporated into the Re-authorization Act of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).[1] In reality these programs do not stop men from seeking sexual services, but rather, they harm women and channel social service funding into policing efforts. This frequently harms sex workers by pushing them, and their clients, to adopt strategies that heighten their risk for violence, HIV, and more.[2]

What are “end demand” programs?

Typically when people speak about “ending demand” they are referring to a range of efforts such as diversion programs in the court system and increased policing of men often accompanied by the imposition of new laws. Diversion programs such as “Johns’ Schools” and public shaming campaigns (i.e. naming people caught for solicitation on bill boards or on websites) are thought to deter men who might consider purchasing sexual services, thus “ending demand.” These programs are often developed in tandem with heightened policing of poor neighborhoods where sex workers reside and work, in order to enforce anti-prostitution laws. These policies are construed as “progressive” because rather than targeting and policing sex workers, they instead target anyone, including clients and organizations working with sex workers. The new legislation thus “punishes” men while “helping women,” an approach developed by Swedish conservative legislators and feminists in the 1980s. Claims have been made that sex workers are provided health care and training in other forms of work with the funds obtained from arresting men (i.e. fines). Police also claim that they arrest fewer women because they are focusing on male clients of sex workers.

Do these programs work?

Proponents of end demand style programming claim that they reduce prostitution without harm to sex workers, deterring men from purchasing sexual services and helping women.[3] Swedish proponents claim that criminalization “will affect relations between women and men in the direction of greater gender equality.”[4]  They also that claim statistics on reduction of arrests of both sex workers and their clients prove these programs are working and improving the lives of women and girls. Evaluations of end demand style programs reveal a very different picture:

·   Prostitution in general is not reduced by “Swedish style legislation” and sex workers are made more vulnerable to violence. An evaluation of Sweden’s legal experiment concluded that it did not greatly reduce the number of women engaging in street sex work: figures from Stockholm show that the total number of women on the street remained stable from 1999-2003.[5] However, the report found that during this period street sex workers were increasingly exploited, pressured to reducing prices and to provide unprotected sex.

·  Highly touted end demand style programs, such as “Johns’ Schools,” have little or no deterrent effect above and beyond the effect of arrest and criminal proceedings.[6] One study found that before and after participating in the program, 1 in 10 men said that they would likely seek commercial sex services again. This rate is 4 times higher than the officially reported recidivism rate of 2.4%.[7]

Rather these programs end up targeting and arresting clients who are poor, people of color and immigrants.[8] These men plead guilty even though many of them may not have been doing anything illegal at the time of arrest and would have been found not guilty had they gone to trial.

·  End demand programs rely on fear tactics that endanger women’s safety. Researchers observing Johns Schools in action found that presenters cautioned participants that “drug addicted prostitutes… have stabbed their clients with AIDS infected needles”[9] as a way of “scaring men straight.” Consequently sex workers are portrayed as violent, dangerous and diseased, thus increasing stigmatization and making prostitutes more vulnerable to violence.

·  End demand programs that are financed by “user fees” paid by participants lead to corruption and conflicts of interest between the police and NGO service providers. Often funds obtained by arresting people are insufficient or are used by the city for other purposes. Research shows that close relationships between policing and funding undermine service providers’ accountability to communities served. In one case, numerous police joined the board of directors of an NGO overseeing a Johns School program. Eventually a police representative became Chair of the board. The researchers noted that “[s]ince the social service organization’s financial welfare depends… on the number and volume of prostitution offenders diverted to the ‘John School’ programme [sic], and given that this volume largely depends on the level of prostitution enforcement, it becomes apparent how… considerable conflicts of interest can arise.”[10]

What can you do to help sex workers in your area?

We are a coalition of sex workers, service providers, advocacy groups and concerned community members who are concerned that “end demand” style programming is undermining service provisions for women in need. We are also concerned that all people engaging in commercial sex (men, women and trans-people) be provided with real social support.  If you are concerned about these issues we ask that you join us by contacting representatives of the following organizations in our coalition:

Desiree Alliance,

Sex Workers Outreach Project

Best Practices Policy Project,

[2] For example, carrying condoms can be cause for arresting someone for prostitution. Condoms are needed to practice safe sex, yet policing policy makes this practice problematic.

[3] The developer of the John’s School program, Norma Hotaling of SAGE, claimed that 98% of men going through the program were “rehabilitated” (Jerome and Rowlands, 1998).

[4]Working Group of the Legal Regulation of Sexual Services, 2004, Purchasing sexual services in Sweden and the Netherlands: Legal regulation and experiences: pp14-15

[5] Working Group of the Legal Regulation of Sexual Services, 2004, Purchasing sexual services in Sweden and the Netherlands: Legal regulation and experiences:

[6] Wortley, S., Fischer, B., & Webster, C. (2002). Vice lessons: A survey of prostitution offenders enrolled in the Toronto John School Diversion Program. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 3(3), 227-248: 394. Monto, Martin A. and Steve Garcia. 2001. "Recidivism Among the Customers of Female Street Prostitutes: Do Intervention Programs Help?" Western Criminology Review 3 (2). [Online]. Available:  

[7] Wortley, Op.Cit: 389

[8] Fischer, B. , Wortley, S., Webster, C., Kirst, M. (2002). The Socio-Legal Dynamics and Implications of Diversion: The Case Study of the Toronto 'John School' for Prostitution Offenders. Criminal Justice, 2(4), 385-410: NEED PAGE #.

[9] Wortley, Op.Cit: 373.

[10] Fischer, Op. Cit: 393.


Desiree Alliance is a coalition of sex workers, health professionals, social scientists, professional sex educators and their supporting networks. We seek to encourage a better understanding of human sexuality by promoting ethical and unbiased research into sexual subcultures; to promote saner and more sensible approaches to policies relating to adult sexual health and behavior. We use this information to educate and empower the public to have healthy and rational attitudes about sexuality.

Desiree Alliance is a Project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit.


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