Debunking the prevalent stereotypes about men who pay for sex, researchers have found that the majority of them do not fit the image of violent, careless misogynists. Rather, they are people who are in a relationship, including marriage, the study suggests.
The new findings are based on a broader study conducted by Susann Huschke from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and Dirk Schubotz of Queen’s University Belfast.
The researchers conducted an online survey of 446 men as well as a smaller number of face-to-face interviews. The majority of the men were between ages 31 and 50.
Almost half of the men who paid for sex were in a relationship, including marriage, with a similar percentage stating they paid for sex a few times a year. Only 52 per cent of the respondents said they were not in a relationship, the report said.
While some men reported paying for sex due to lack of self-confidence and shyness around women, others said “they had sex with sex workers because they were living in ‘sexless’ or ‘loveless’ marriages with no physical contact, or because their relationship with their partners had broken down”.
“Some respondents stated that sex with a sex worker is the easier, but also a ‘more honest’ and safer option than affairs or one-night stands,” it added.
The findings, published in the online journal Sexualities, suggest that criminalising prostitution may not lead to abolition of sex work.
“We argue that the criminalisation of paying for sex which came into effect in Northern Ireland in 2015 and is being discussed in the Republic of Ireland will likely not stop the majority of clients from paying for sex and thus fail to achieve its aim to reduce or abolish sex work,” the researchers said.