Changing Norms & Attitudes to Prevent the Harm Caused by Commercial Sexual Exploitation - No Buyers, No Harm
Over 100 participants attended the event, which took place on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 from 8:00-10:00 a.m. at MassHousing, 1 Beacon Street, 4th Floor, Bill White Board Room. The City of Boston, Boston Police Department and Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement; MassHousing, Demand Abolition, the Imago Dei Fund and The Eva Center convened an event titled Understanding Commercial Sexual Exploitation Through the Lens of Gender Inequity.
The presentation highlighted the City of Boston’s evolving approach to combatting the harms associated with commercial sexual exploitation, and to educate as to the connection between prostitution, sex trafficking, gender inequity and gender-based violence.
"This truly is an issue of gender equity. The vast majority of people involved in this kind of exploitation are female. They are often forced into this work by their partners or others, and fear retribution. They don’t see another option—or a way out of it."-Mayor Martin J. Walsh
The City of Boston is committed to preventing and reducing the harm associated with commercial sexual exploitation through a three-pronged strategy;
Community outreach, education and mobilization to change norms so that Bostonians no longer consider buying sex a normal act, but instead harmful to all involved - the victim, the buyer and the community.
Promotion of Men’s Accountability: Male buyers are driving this crime. Given that, male accountability is a key strategy of the City of Boston’s approach, and will manifest in the form of legal and financial sanctions, alongside a broader targeted deterrence and education effort; and
The creation of victim-centered responses with comprehensive trauma informed services for those attempting to exit the life, and for those active in the life.
The City of Boston is moving toward this approach through its CEASE Boston Initiative. CEASE stands for Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation and Boston is one of twelve U.S. jurisdictions that have been working since 2015 to end commercial sexual exploitation. “The Boston Police Department has played a lead role in CEASE Boston efforts since 2015.” says Commissioner Gross, “Through this collaborative work, the need for all sectors and partners to join us in our efforts to reduce demand for paid sex is evident. It is time for us as a city to recognize prostituted persons as vulnerable human beings who need compassion, support and services - not arrest and marginalization”.