Stop traffick: Tackling demand for sexual services of trafficked women and girls

Edward Keegan, Nusha Yonkova


The research focuses on the characteristic, knowledge, and experiences of buyers of sex, focusing on human trafficking and exploitation. Recognising that those trafficked for sexual exploitation are often exploited in the commercial sex industry, the research adopts an understanding of ‘demand’ in the context of human trafficking which includes demand for women in prostitution. In order to study buyers, a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research tools was used, including online questionnaires and face-to-face interviews. Through these methods, a total of 763 buyers engaged with the research, across four EU Member States (Ireland, Finland, Bulgaria and Lithuania). A number of important findings emerged in the research. Buyers interviewed were seen to have a complex view of sellers. They overwhelmingly viewed the sale of sex as a transaction between two consenting adults, but also saw sellers as different from other women. At the same time, although up to a third of buyers had witnessed or suspected exploitation, a gap emerged with regard to those who had reported such fears. Finally, irrespective of their knowledge of human trafficking, or measures targeting those who knowingly purchase sex from trafficked victims, buyers rarely considered trafficking when purchasing sex.
Keywords: human trafficking; sexual exploitation; prostitution; demand; buyers

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