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But some human rights organizations, most recently Amnesty International, advocate for the decriminalization of all aspects of sex work, including buying sex.

While Amnesty International members were considering whether to recommend decriminalizing sex work altogether, I was with a TIME video team on two buyer-focused sex stings in Cook County, Ill.

His logic is that the cops are out there so infrequently, only people buying regular sex are likely to get caught.

Once a deal has been made for sex, the undercover officer gives an electronic signal and the other cops rush in and cuff the buyer. (To protect the safety of the undercover officers, we’ve agreed to use pseudonyms.) After they’re cuffed, the johns are quickly taken to a third room, where they’re searched for weapons.Across the country, cops are implementing a strategy that has long been debated in Europe: targeting the men who buy sex while trying to help the women who sell it.Some police and scholars say that focusing law enforcement attention on sex buyers reduces demand for prostitution, which strangles the sex industry and curbs human trafficking.If they’re unarmed, the officers take off their handcuffs and explain the situation.They’ll get an ordinance violation, which is at least a 0 fine, and in many cases their car will be towed, which is another 0, plus a towing fee that’s usually between 0-300.

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