Decriminalising Britain's £4bn sex industry would increase protection of women. By Dr Catherine Hakim
||31st August 2015 |
See article from
See report [pdf] from
New evidence from international sex surveys show large and continuing differences between male and female perspectives on sexuality in all cultures. Male sexual desire is manifested at least twice as often as female desire, and men would like to have
sex twice as often as women. This gap in sexual desire between men and women is growing over time and cannot be dismissed as an out-dated patriarchal myth as argued by some feminists.
The sexual deficit among (heterosexual) men
helps to explain many puzzles, including why men are the principal customers for commercial sexual entertainments of all kinds. It is no surprise that sex workers (male and female) cater to men almost exclusively. Male demand for sex invariably outstrips
Demand for commercial sex is therefore inevitable and the sex industry is likely to continue to flourish in the 21st century. Not only does male demand for sexual activity greatly outstrip non-commercial female
supply, but economic growth, globalisation and the Internet facilitate access to the world's oldest profession.
Several factors suggest that the male sex deficit will not disappear, and might even grow in the 21st century. Women's
increasing economic independence allows them to withdraw from sexual markets and relationships that they perceive to offer unfair bargains, especially if they already have enough children or do not want any. Changes in national sex ratios towards a
numerical surplus of men helps women to reset the rules in their own favour in developed societies.
A key objection to the sex industry is that it damages women and that the presence of porn, lap-dancing and prostitution in a
country promotes rape and other violence against women. However, although there are too few rigorous studies to draw definitive conclusions, all the available evidence points in the direction of prostitution and erotic entertainments having no noxious
psychological or social effects, and they may even help to reduce sexual crime rates.
In many countries, including Britain, it is perfectly legal to sell sexual services; however any third-party involvement is illegal. The aim is
to prevent exploitation by pimps or madams. The effect is to criminalise the industry and brothels, to prevent girls working together in a flat for their mutual protection, to prevent anyone from lawfully supplying services to a sex worker or even rent a
flat to them.
The commercial sex industry is impervious to prohibitions and cannot be eliminated. Countries that criminalise buyers (such as Sweden) simply push demand abroad to countries with a more sex-positive culture. Policies
that criminalise sellers directly, or criminalise third parties who supply them with services, simply push the sex industry underground, increasing risks for sex workers. The sex industry is estimated to be worth over four billion pounds to the British
economy. It should be completely decriminalised.
Initial findings from UK research
|28th May 2015
See article from
British women are paying for sexual services because they want great sex, are too busy for relationships or do not want to have a conventional relationship.
These are the initial findings of a new study which has been launched into women who
buy sexual services.
The study, led by Dr Sarah Kingston of Lancaster University, and co-led by Dr Natalie Hammond at Manchester Metropolitan University, will potentially be one of the most in-depth analyses of the subject ever undertaken in the
Researchers have spoken to 21 escorts in the UK who are paid for their sexual services. Now they want to speak to their female clients to find out more about the experiences of women who pay for sex. Their early findings reveal that women who
pay for sex come from all backgrounds and ages, although there is a common trend that women are in their thirties and forties.
Dr Kingston, a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University, has research interests in the sex industry, policy and
law. She explained:
We have made some fascinating early findings, but we still have much work to do. We are seeking to explore motivations and experiences of women who book escorts; who and where they buy sex from and
to explore how physical and sexual safety is negotiated.
The study involves interviewing men, women, transgendered and transsexual people who sell sexual services to women, as well as women who purchase sexual services.
We still want to speak to women who buy sexual services. This will be completely confidential and they will not be identified in any way. Phone and Skype interviews have been popular so far, and we are flexible on methods. Speaking
directly with women will provide us with a valuable insight into how and why they engage in this activity.
The research team explained:
Some of our participants say most of the women who buy sex are
professional people, some of whom may simply want pleasurable sexual experiences. Paying an escort is described as a way of ensuring discretion, as opposed to other ways of securing sexual encounters.
In some instances women were
very specific about the services they required. This came across in some interviews with escorts who had one-to-one bookings with women. Escorts relay how women with specific requests email their expectations ahead of meeting.
However, some women also pay for more than just sexual intercourse, they might go for a drink or meal with their chosen escort before progressing onto sexual contact, which some escorts describe as the 'boyfriend experience'.
It is also evident that women purchase sexual services as part of a couple. The majority of the escorts interviewed see couples, stating they are booked for regular excitement and fun, or simply for a relationship treat. In
couples, some men appeared more nervous than their female partner.
Shock horror! researchers find that many customers of sex workers seek a girl friend experience
|20th September 2012
See article from
The Hobbyist and the Girlfriend Experience: Behaviors and Preferences of Male Customers of Internet Sexual Service Providers
This study provides descriptive information about the
background characteristics, sexual preferences, attitudes, and motives of men (N = 584) who locate and contract with female Internet Sexual Service Providers (ISSP) for paid sex acts through a prostitute review site on the Web. The questionnaire-based
findings showed these men preferred the girlfriend experience or GFE over all other personal qualities and behaviors. The study contributes to our understanding of a rapidly emerging category of men who seek sexual services on-line and their
desire for mutuality and excitement in a provider who is willing to replicate some aspects of a conventional, non-remunerative romantic relationship.
The present study provides information on the sexual behavior, motives, and
characteristics of a highly elusive population of regular clients of prostitutes who consider themselves hobbyists. These men are part of an on-line community based around prostitute review websites in which clients post reviews of their
experiences and also communicate on-line with Internet Sexual Service Providers (ISSP) i.e. prostitutes who advertise their sexual services on-line. Hobbyists share information within a forum of insiders and often come to know one another by user names
or aliases. In contrast to customers seeking prostitutes on the street, the risk of arrest is extremely low. Although the sample of 584 men who participated in the present study may not be representative of the majority of prostitution customers, it
provides insight into a growing subculture of men who solicit indoor prostitutes almost solely by using the Internet. Our study yields a constellation of findings indicating that many of these customers of ISSP seek a girlfriend experience, popularly abbreviated GFE, in which their interactions with providers mirror those often found in conventional non-remunerative sexual relationships.
|8th September |
Swiss study finds that regulation is the key to reducing problems associated with sex work
Eva Buschi, a professor at the School of Social Work of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, interviewed managers of sex establishments for a study entitled Violence in the Sex Business and concluded that lack of regulation
was a major problem for both sex workers and the establishments themselves.
In other businesses workers get contracts, in which the tasks to be performed, the price and how long they should take are clearly laid down. In the sex business today
this is mostly not the case, she told swissinfo.ch.
One problem is that managers of sex establishments are afraid of falling foul of the law forbidding the promotion of prostitution, she explained.
But the study shows that violence is a
daily reality in the business. It occurs among customers, between the managers and the workers, and among the workers themselves. However, the managers of the businesses often downplay the issue. They tend to see their main problem as social
Given that the legal sex business generates a turnover put at 3.5 billion Swiss Francs ($4.4 billion) per year, Buschi says it should be approached pragmatically, ensuring that workers are given the best possible conditions.
If sex work is professionalised, it will help destigmatise the work, and be easier to draw a divide between legal and illegal sex providers, the study says. Both owners and clients will find it harder to put pressure on the workers, and that in turn will
give them extra protection and make it easier to confront problems. The greater the pressure on sex workers, the greater the danger that they will, for example, accept a drunken client or agree to perform their services without a condom.
authorities in Nidau in canton Bern have already introduced conditions for granting permits to would-be sex establishments. The move was regarded as a possible model for the rest of the country.
The managers of the establishments have to guarantee
that the women are declared as sex workers and not as tourists, and that they are in the country legally. They must give the women information leaflets in their own languages about their rights and duties -- including that they must declare their
earnings to the tax authorities. Nor must the managers charge excessive prices for rooms or slap on unreasonable extra charges. In addition, the local advisory centre must be given unlimited access to the sex workers.
The police can make
unannounced visits to check that the rules are being followed.
|23rd January |
Challenging the paper correlating sexual assault in Camden with lap dancing
See paper from
The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis. by Brooke L Magnanti, PhD.
A 2003 report [by the
anti-prostitution campaigners of Lilith] on the impact of lap-dancing clubs on sexual assault in Camden, London had significant influence on the perception of the contribution of adult entertainment to crime statistics. In spite of mathematical
corrections to the statistics in the report, its original conclusions are still widely reported in both academic and mass media.
This paper presents a broader analysis of the impact of lap-dancing clubs by calculating
accurate rates of incidence, analysing statistics from a longer time period, and comparing the results with crime rates in neighbouring boroughs of London. The rate of rape in Camden is lower than that in comparable boroughs, including ones with no such
clubs. The overall trend for London boroughs, while higher than the national average, shows a decrease where national statistics are on the increase
Melon Farmers Comment
It is of course good to see the Lilith
nonsense challenged, but it seems a pity that it takes pseudo science to demonstrate the bleedin' obvious.
Does anyone intuitively think, given a massively changing society, that anyone can correlate anything significant to a tiny percentage of
the male population visiting lap dancing clubs. Surely this pails into insignificance compared with say demographic changes such as ageing populations, declining religion, cultural changes dues to European and South Asian immigration, economic changes,
policing changes with the advent of CCTV, DNA, database surveillance, massively increased impact of the internet (with enough influence to decimate other branches of the adult industry), changes to patterns of alcohol consumption, declining influence of
tobacco, and of course the certification of video nasties...the list is endless...
What are the chances that 'any' effects of a couple of lap dancing venues can be mathematically extracted from this fog of major societal influences?
I would guess somewhere in the ballpark of 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%
|23rd October |
Research into web forums where contributors share their interest in prostitution
Based on article
The Internet has spawned a virtual subculture of customers who share information electronically about prostitution, according to a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University criminologist.
The research by MSU's Thomas Holt and
Kristie Blevins of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte challenges the common perception that sex customers act alone and do not interact for fear of reprisal or scorn. The study appears in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.
assistant professor of criminal justice, said today's Web-savvy customers use the Internet to solicit prostitutes and to provide each other with warnings of prostitution hot zones and stings, which can hamper the efforts of law enforcement officials.
The growth of these deviant subcultures has made it more difficult for law enforcement, said Holt, who has helped police devise prostitution stings. On the other hand, it gives us a new opportunity to use the way the offenders communicate to
better target their activities.
The study analyzed prostitution Web forums in 10 U.S. cities with the highest rates of prostitution arrests: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dayton, Elizabeth, Forth Worth, Hartford, Inglewood, Las Vegas
In the Web forums, customers provide detailed information on the location of sexual services on the streets and indoors, as well as ways to identify specific providers, information on costs and personal experiences with providers.
The open nature of the forums led the users to carefully disguise their discussions with a unique language, or argot, based largely on code and acronyms. This argot may help customers and sex workers to avoid legal sanctions and any social stigma associated with participating in the sex trade, the researchers said.
The study also said the customers place significant value on the notion that paid sexual encounters are normal and nondeviant. These Internet communities help these individuals justify their behavior, Holt said.
|15th August |
Research correlates violence against sex workers with criminalisation
New evidence has been published which fundamentally undermines the government's arguments in favour of criminalising those who pay for sex.
The research comes from Vancouver, and was conducted by the University of British Colombia. It found a
direct correlation between criminalisation and increased violence against sex workers.
Evidence from Vancouver and the UK shows that criminalisation reinforced stigma and facilitates violence against sex workers, a spokesperson for the
International Union of Sex Workers told politics.co.uk: We know that the government's policies in the policing and crime bill although they are described as intending to protect vulnerable women, they will in fact increase the level of violence sex
workers experience - both indoors and out.
The new research follows a damaging report from the respected Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which found the majority of the migrant workers in the UK sex industry were not forced or
It also concluded that criminalising clients would not stop the sex industry and that it would be pushed underground, making it more difficult for migrants working in the UK sex industry to assert their rights in relation to both
clients and employers.
Taken together, the research provides a devastating critique of the government's policy platform, which was based on an attempt to end the trafficking of women into the UK to work in the sex industry.
research found the factors causing a prevalence of violence could be stemmed by decriminalising the sex industry.
According to the report's author, Professor Kate Shannon, factors such as being forced to service clients in cars or public
places, inability to access drug treatment and a prior assault by police all correlated with violence against female sex workers: The persistent relationship between enforcement of prostitution and drug use policies (e.g. confiscation of drug use
paraphernalia without arrest, and enforced displacement to outlying areas) suggests that criminalisation may enhance the likelihood of violence against street-based female sex workers .
The findings support global calls to remove criminal
sanctions targeting sex workers, Professor Shannon said.
|1st May |
Working girls' income
From ABC News by John Allen Paulos
Why is it that prostitution is so relatively well-paid?
It is documented that in diverse
cultures and over many centuries, prostitutes have indeed made much more, sometimes several multiples more, than comparably (un)skilled women would make in more prosaic occupations. From medieval France and imperial Japan to present-day Los Angeles and
Buddhist Thailand, this income differential has persisted, although its size depends on various factors.
Prostitution Diminishes Marriage Chances
Two economists, Lena Edlund of Columbia University and Evelyn Korn of
Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tubingen, have published an intriguing paper, A Theory of Prostitution, see www.iies.su.se/seminars/papers/Edlund.pdf
Developing the consequences of their mathematical model, Edlund and Korn argue that the primary reason for the income differential is not the risk sometimes associated with the practice of prostitution but rather that prostitutes greatly diminish their chances for marriage by virtue of their occupation. Men generally don't want to marry (ex)prostitutes, and so women must be relatively well-compensated in order to forgo the opportunity to marry.
Employing market concepts, doing some calculus and assuming that "women sell and men buy," the authors also conclude that prostitution generally declines as men's incomes increase.
Wives and prostitutes are competing
"commodities" (in the reductionist view of economists, that is), but wives are distinctly superior in that they can produce children that are socially recognized.
Thus, if men have more money, they tend to buy the superior good and, at
least when wives and prostitutes come from the same pool of women, tend to buy (rent) the cheaper good less frequently.
More obvious perhaps is that prostitution generally declines in areas where women's incomes and opportunities are greater.
Putting these two tendencies together suggests that if one wishes to reduce prostitution, increasing the incomes of both men and women is likely to be more effective than imposing legal penalties.
Sex Ratios, Foreign Prostitutes and
Another consequence of the authors' model is that a high ratio of men to women tends to increase prostitution's relative profitability (versus marriage).
If the surplus of men over women is temporary, say, because of
war or upheaval, then the surplus usually leads to an even greater incentive to prostitution.
As permanent residents in a location, men are potential participants in both the marriage market and the sex markets, whereas if they're visitors, only
the latter market is generally available and the supply of prostitutes and their incomes rise. The authors cite the example of modern sex tourism.
The model also predicts that how much a woman damages her chances to marry by becoming a prostitute
depends on how likely it is that she'll be exposed as one.
The likelihood shrinks if the woman leaves home and migrates to a different part of the country or to a different country altogether. This would also explain why foreign prostitutes are
likely to be cheaper than domestic ones.
More generally, the abundance of foreign prostitutes shouldn't come as a surprise. Immigrants generally have difficulty finding employment and, except at the high end of the scale, prostitution does not
place much of a premium on language skills. As in other parts of the economy, globalization is controversial and is one reason the number of women trafficked for sexual purposes is exaggerated. (It is considerably smaller than the number of people
trafficked for nonsexual labor.)
There are good reasons — from academic studies to the sheer ubiquity of prostitutes — to believe that trafficking is relatively isolated and that only a small fraction of prostitutes are coerced into prostitution.
One last prediction the model makes is that the income differential paid to prostitutes will rise with the status the culture accords wives.
That is, if wives are valued highly, would-be prostitutes are giving up a lot by becoming
prostitutes and will require more money to do so. And if wives have few privileges, would-be prostitutes aren't giving up much to become prostitutes and thus need less inducement to do so.
Cultural tolerance, of course, is a determinant not only
of the income differential but also of the number of women who become prostitutes. Compare, for example, Thailand and Afghanistan.
Like any statistical model, this one ignores the diversity of real people and the
complexities of love and pleasure, changing social mores, et cetera. Still, once all its equations have been solved, a simple fact remains: Most women enter prostitution for the money.
This being so, legalizing it, regulating it (strictly
enforcing laws against pimping, child prostitution, public nuisance and so forth) and improving the economic prospects for women seem to me a greatly preferable approach to it than moralistic denunciation.