Why Men Go To Prostitutes, A New Study
A survey of 103 men in London, England, who frequently sought the services of prostitutes were questioned about their experiences, attitudes, awareness of the sex industry, and deterrents to seeking prostitutes. The study was a collaborative effort between Eaves, a feminist organization that works to curb demand for commercial sex; and Prostitution Research & Education, an educational nonprofit in San Francisco that researches and documents the dangers of prostitution and sex trafficking.
The survey conducted in London was part of a larger international research project that interviewed 700 men to discover why males buy sex. The project covered six countries. The men surveyed in England ranged in age from 18 to 70 and were primarily white, black, Asian, and eastern European. Most of them were employed and had continued their education past high school. More than half were either married or in a relationship with a women. Thirty-five percent reported no religious affiliation, 33 percent said they were Christian, 13 percent had an unspecified religious affiliation, and the remainder were Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, or Spiritualist.
When asked how many prostitutes they had ever paid for, 15 was the number most often mentioned, although the numbers ranged from 1 to 2,000. Twelve percent of the men had gone to more than 130 prostitutes, and 65 percent believed that “most men” go to prostitutes occasionally. Even though many of these men sought the services of prostitutes quite often, 71 percent of them said they experienced some degree of shame, guilt, or negative feelings about paying for sex.
Men seek prostitutes for a variety of reasons. The most common reason named was to satisfy an immediate sexual urge or for pleasure (32%), followed by a need for variety (21%), not having their needs met in their current relationship (20%), convenience (15%), the thrill (8%), and an addiction or compulsion (3%).
The men said they would be easily deterred from seeking prostitutes if the current laws were enforced. Most of the men said that fines, public exposure, employers being told of their activities, the risk of a criminal record, and being given an ASBO (antisocial behavior order, which means an individual’s activities can be made known publicly) would stop them from continuing to pay for prostitutes. Learning that women were trafficked, pimped, or otherwise coerced would not be so effective.
The Internet was used to locate women in prostitution by 27 percent of the men. The sexual activities occurred most often in brothels (60%) or private flats (55%), massage parlors (47%), escort agencies (33%), and saunas (27%). When asked about their attitudes about prostitution, most of the men believed that prostitutes are “un-rape-able,” and 16 percent said they would rape a woman if they could be sure they would not get caught. Based on the men’s responses to questions about the rights of prostitutes, the researchers found that many of the men believe that the women they buy have no rights in the interaction.
Forty-eight percent of the men said they believed that most women in prostitution are victims of pimps. More than half (55%) said they believed that most prostitutes have been trafficked, tricked, or lured. Yet despite their awareness of coercion and trafficking, only five of the 103 men reported their suspicions to the police.
The authors of this study hope that the information they have uncovered will alert the public and policy makers about the need to address sex trafficking and the prostitution trade. Men’s acceptance of prostitution is an attitude that encourages and justifies violence against women, as well as the fact that many of the men believe they are entitled to sexual access to women and that prostitutes have no rights. This research may ultimately help with the development of prostitution and trafficking prevention programs.
Farley M et al. “Men Who Buy Sex.” December 2009
The Guardian, Jan. 15, 2010