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The Illegal Commercial Sex Industry in Boston

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are horrific crimes. They take advantage of vulnerable women and children and they use violence and coercion to destroy lives. We have to take a stand. That’s why I made sure Boston was one of the first cities to join the CEASE Network.

– Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh,  June 2014

The Combat Zone may be gone, but that doesn’t mean prostitution is no longer an issue in our city.  Instead, the predatory practice of purchasing sex has moved to the internet.  In one month alone we counted over 10,000 ads placed on, a popular website for sex trafficking. We counted 3,000 men in Boston on one given day, on a single website soliciting sex.

A widely held myth is that the commercial sex trade is a free market system practiced by consenting adults. Some might view the purchase of sex as a victimless crime. The reality is that prostitution is an abusive activity that preys on highly vulnerable people using coercion, and are connected to heinous crimes that often cause widespread damage to society.

The traditional approach to curbing prostitution has focused on arresting the sex trade’s victims—the women and children coerced into prostitution by pimps, traffickers, or circumstance. By some counts, more than 90% of those who are arrested for prostitution in the United States are those who sell sex; fewer than 10% are the buyers.

Not only is this unfair, it’s inefficient. Clearly the old method of reducing prostitution by arresting prostituted people isn’t working. It’s time for a new approach.

Boston’s approach to reducing demand includes a focus on the buyer and identifying opportunities to interrupt the cycle of harm associated with all aspects of prostitution. Our city, its children & families deserve this.

CEASE Boston works in close collaboration with office of Boston Mayor,  Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Police Department. Boston is now going after those whose choices and checkbooks keep the illegal sex trade operational: sex buyers. By holding these men accountable for their actions, we can dramatically decrease the volume of prostitution and sex trafficking in Boston.

How CEASE Boston is Addressing the Problem

CEASE Boston will work on multiple fronts to combat and ultimately reduce the buying of sex in Greater Boston. Law enforcement, public health organizations, civic associations, representatives from the business and legal communities, and faith-based groups are partnering together in this endeavor.

We believe sex buyers should be targeted and held accountable for their involvement in these transactions regardless of their socio-economic status and professional position.

CEASE Boston will work to illustrate just how intricately embedded prostitution is in other serious crimes, such as gang violence and the trafficking of firearms and drugs, so that buyers understand how their actions make our community unsafe.

CEASE Boston will provide resources and information so that law enforcement and legislators are able to create more powerful and expedited deterrents for those who purchase sex.

Our message is clear: No buyers no business.

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