Men who buy sex tend to commit more crimes, study says

BOSTON Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:52pm EDT

Related Topics

BOSTON (Reuters) - Men who pay for sex are more likely than non-buyers to commit a variety of offenses, including violent crimes against women, according to research conducted in the Boston area.

The study was based on face-to-face interviews with 202 men conducted by the non-profit group Prostitution Research and Education and led by Melissa Farley, a clinical psychologist and anti-prostitution activist.

Buyers and non-buyers of commercial sex from the Boston area were paired by age, education and ethnicity to compare their perceptions of women, after voluntarily joining a research study.

Men who paid for sex were more likely to report having committed felonies and misdemeanors, including crimes related to violence against women and those related to substance abuse, assault and weapons.

The buyers and non-buyers agreed that the most effective deterrent to buying sex would be to be placed on a list of men described as sex offenders. Jail time was also considered an effective deterrent.

The study was designed, among other things, to test attitudes of men who buy sex. It found that as a group, they share certain attitudes and behavioral tendencies different from their non-buying peers.

For example, significantly fewer sex buyers, 47 percent against 70 percent, reported that they were taught about respect for women in sex education classes.

Almost three in four of the sex buyers reported they learned about sex from pornography, whereas only 54 percent of the non-buyers did so.

The two groups also held significantly different attitudes regarding whether prostitution was consenting sex or exploitation. Men who bought sex were significantly less empathetic toward women working as prostitutes.

Two thirds of both groups concluded most women prostitutes had been lured, tricked or trafficked into the work.

But sex buyers "seemed to justify their involvement in the sex industry by stating their belief ... that women in prostitution were intrinsically different from non-prostituting women," the study's authors said.

Sex buyers often commented that they liked the power relationship intrinsic to prostitution.

The majority of both groups -- 61 percent of sex buyers and 70 percent of non-buyers -- currently had a wife or girlfriend. The were recruited using an advertisement in a local free daily newspaper.

(Reporting by Ros Krasny)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (4)
Key point to remember: The study was conducted by an anti-prostitution activist. I’m sure Ms. Farley wouldn’t hesitate to publish the results of a study she conducted whose conclusions did not support her agenda.

Furthermore, the study sample is ludicrously small. The total sample size is 202. The margin of error will easily be +/- 10%, making any conclusions reached meaningless. Aditionally the subjects were self-selected by responding to an ad placed in a newspaper. Any statistician knows this is the worst possible way to conduct a study. Those who respond generally have a personal agenda, making them more likely to respond.

This is just typical drivel passing itself off as science, generated purely for pursuing a political agenda. But hey look, it got some attention.

Jul 20, 2011 11:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
owls wrote:
JustAWorkinGirl, I was going to say the exact same thing. This was a terribly conducted study. And I doubt that Melissa Farley has any interest in what sex workers have to say themselves about their clientele. That would probably throw a spanner into her agenda.

Jul 21, 2011 4:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gayle22 wrote:
Thank you for publishing this article.

The study is maddening but not all together surprising to those of us who have worked to help women and children out of this industry. Despite the many millions of dollars spent promoting hte “Happy Hooker” myth, the stories on the ground are depressingly similar: young pre-teens, often thrown away or victims of abuse and neglect in their own home are “recruited” by violent men. Prostitution is called the “oldest profession” as it’s a form of slavery– the slavery of women and children– and it’s about time we confronted it as such.

The only way to actually shrink this growing industry is to stop treating victims as criminals and instead punish the men who abuse- Johns and pimps.

Jul 22, 2011 2:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus