The majority of clients are men - both of male and female sex workers. The famous Kinsey report estimated that over 60 per cent of US men had paid for sex, but that was the war generation - things would no doubt be different now. A paper from put the percentage of men in Australia who had ever purchased sex at 15 per cent, with about one in 50 overall having done so in the last year.
There is a question of how accurate such figures are, though, because of the stigma attached to paying for it - with some estimates putting the real number closer to 20 per cent paying for sex at least once.
Right now Canadian research is being thrown into the spotlight by media, not least because the Supreme Court there recently rules to strike down all existing laws regarding prostitution thanks to the wonderfully coiffed Terri-Jean Bedford and her decade-long legal battle. The Sex, Safety and Security study has been polling buyers of sex and makes fascinating reading. Canada strikes down anti-prostitution laws. Scotland's proposed sex bill 'won't protect sex workers'.
Can European Parliament call a halt to it, as we know it? What's your sex number? Why are women still lying? Dominatrix Bedford, one of three current and former sex workers who initiated a challenge to Canada's prostitution laws, reacts at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. The study, which initially conducted surveys and 24 in-depth interviews in , is being updated to cover another surveys and 18 in-depth interviews with the results due to be published later this year.
As well as aiming to demonstrate trends over time, the survey also examines topics like attitudes towards the law, the age at which subjects started buying sex, and their other sexual relationships. Chris Atchison of the University of Victoria designed both studies. He notes that the later survey includes more questions about the nature of buying sex and client experiences with sex workers.
UK researcher Teela Sanders, meanwhile, wrote a book discussing the phenomenon of paying for sex. In it, she notes: Sanders's book describes "push factors" - things like boredom, loneliness, or unsatisfying sex life - as well as "pull factors" like availability and opportunity that influence men's decisions to purchase sex.
With both in play, it certainly indicates that a straight "End Demand" approach, which only addresses pull factors but not push factors, could expect to only have a limited impact, and believing that forcing sex underground will make people not pay for it is incredibly naive. Interestingly, the research also suggests that one of the "pull factors" for men who buy sex is because it is illicit and they are attracted to the idea of getting away with it.
No doubt while some people would be put off by criminalisation of buying sex, others would find the exact opposite. And indeed in the US, where both selling and buying are criminalised, there's no indication criminal status does much to discourage punters. Don't want to know? Which brings us the big question or money shot, if you will: It seems that it is statistically less uncommon than most people imagine. As with so many things, whether or not you actually broach the subject should be the topic of much thought.
Like with the question of your number of ex-sex partners … would you really want to know? Perhaps the best policy is, if the outcome would completely change the way you think of someone, then perhaps it's better left unasked. The case for criminalising punters has lately been made by Labour MEP Mary Honeyball whose report on sex work was voted on in European Parliament last month. I watched Honeyball's vote as it streamed online. If you are the sort of person who thinks fans of policy and sausages should not watch the creation of either, I can assure you Brussels is absolutely the Heston Blumenthal of sausage-making: It passed, though it is only a symbolic victory.
It does not have the force of law. It does however signal a move in this country, following Rhoda Grant's failed bill in the Scottish parliament last year, to continue pushing the criminalisation of punters. Do things need to change? Despite the existence of licensed brothels in Singapore, many women still end up working illegally, including in an unknown number of unlicensed brothels.
Some have even been found operating in public housing estates, The Straits Times reported last month. There is clearly a demand for prostitutes in Singapore, Ho says, and women keep coming to the city from nearby countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and China.
Project X says there are many informal sex workers who work only occasionally, making it difficult to estimate the number. Two years ago, police arrested more than 5, unlicensed sex workers — mostly foreign women visiting on tourist visas.
Lainez says many are poorly educated with low-paying jobs back home. They came to Singapore for sex work to earn a higher income. Singaporean Jaafar falls into the same category. She failed to complete the Primary School Leaving Examination and has limited job options. She entered the sex trade 12 years ago when she needed to support her children after getting divorced. They should be able to ply their trade safely, without harassment, and with dignity, Harrigan says.
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