Men Who Buy Sex Know Women May Be Trafficked, Abused, or Underage

The motives of men who buy women in prostitution have long been an enigma to the anti-trafficking community. We have told ourselves that if these men only knew how often women entered prostitution as children or suffered through it against their will, they wouldn’t buy sex. But a new study out of the UK shows, quite disturbingly, that men who buy sex know the woman they pay to use may be trapped, abused, or underage. And the men buy her anyway.

The UK-based Poppy Project and U.S.-based Prostitution and Research Education Center teamed up to interview 103 men in London who had bought commercial sex. Of those men, 55% believed that the majority of women were lured, tricked, or trafficked into the sex industry unwillingly. Most of the men interviewed also claimed they believed at least a third of women in prostitution began when they were under 18. Half the men copped to using a woman they knew for a fact was being controlled by a pimp. But despite believing that a majority of women in prostitution were currently or had once been victims of human trafficking, these men bought sex from them.

While we occasionally hear stories of trafficking victims escaping with the assistance of a conscientious john, the flip side of such helpfulness is the darkness of indifference. One of the interviewees told the researchers his story of buying an African woman woman for sex. She was frightened and nervous, and she told the man she had been tricked. He had sex with her anyway, and when she accepted the money, he decided she must have been lying about being tricked.

Additionally disturbing was the belief of many men that once a transaction of prostitution began, the woman no longer had a right to refuse sex. Over half of them also believed that prostitution was a form of “rape prevention,” and that if prostitution were no longer available they would end up raping women to compensate. But perhaps the most surprising finding of this study is that 71% of the men questioned felt ambivalent at best about buying sex, and many felt downright bad about it.

So if men think that the majority of women in prostitution aren’t there of their own fruition, and they don’t really feel good about buying sex, why do they? The most popular response on this survey was to satisfy a sexual urge. A lot of the men also thought that buying commercial sex was much more popular among their peers than it is. Many of them identified themselves as struggling with sexual addiction.

But whatever their reasons, this study has shown that men who buy sex know about human trafficking, pimp control, and children being pushed into prostitution. So how do we make them care?


Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 7:37 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: