Date of Award

Spring 6-18-2015

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Christine Stevens


This research explores the effect of different prostitution policy models on sex trafficking, focusing on the criminalization model in the United States and the legalization model in the Netherlands. The aim is to understand how each model impacts the growth of the sex trafficking industry and the availability of resources for trafficking victims to escape their situation, with the ultimate goal of determining which model – criminal or legal – more affectively combats sex trafficking. The two models are explored through interviews with a former trafficking victim and two law enforcement officials in the United States, as well as two former sex workers in the Netherlands. Though limited by a small sample size and a focus on women in the industry, the research results indicate that, given the persistent nature of prostitution, the legalization model produces greater benefits than the criminalization model, both in terms of public safety and industry regulation and in terms of enabling sex trafficking victims to escape the industry.


This is a Bamford Fellowship in Global Engagement (BFGE) undergraduate research thesis. The BFGE is intended to provide a guided research experience for Global Honors students; enhance undergraduate research in global issues; promote global engagement, citizenship, and leadership; and enhance relevance between academic research and community service. Find out more on the Bamford Fellowship webpage.