Last week, police from the Canadian city of London, Ontario announced that effective immediately the names of sex buyers would be made public information. This new policy is an attempt to curb the demand for prostitution by outing men who would otherwise be able to hide the harm they are perpetrating. London police previously had withheld the names of men charged with buying sex, even in human trafficking cases.
The new move was thanks to a decade long effort by women’s organizations who put continual pressure on the police to take a stand against the male demand that perpetuates prostitution and sex trafficking. According to the London Free Press,
“The chief’s announcement… drew cheers from a group of London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) staffers attending the afternoon meeting. ‘We feel really encouraged that our voices were heard,’ LAWC chief executive Megan Walker said. ‘The decision to release the names of sex purchasers is in the best interest of the community.’”
The London mayor Ed Holder supported the move to curb demand saying, “I think it’s a critical step to reducing human trafficking in our community… it’s important to send a message to johns: Not in London…”
This new move in the province of Ontario comes on the heels of a recent nationwide victory for the abolition movement, which made purchasing sex a crime throughout all of Canada. Releasing the names of sex buyers will undergird Canada’s existing anti-demand legislation.
An unwavering focus on reducing the demand for commercial sex is critical to combating prostitution and sex trafficking. This is because the sex industry could not exist without the male demand that supports it, enables it, and makes it a lucrative business for pimps and traffickers.
If we are to be effective in our efforts to combat sexual exploitation we must take aim at the real root of the problem and that means working to eliminate the demand for commercial sex.