Men are hypocrites about prostitution
Acceptable to buy: unacceptable to sell. Our hypocritical attitudes to the sale of sex have been exposed in a new survey published by the Home Office.
Most men — 61% - said it would be unacceptable to them for a female relative to sell sex. But only half — 50% - thought it was unacceptable for a male relative to buy it. In other words, at least 11% of us are shocking hypocrites when it comes to prostitution.
This difference is most stark amongst men over 55. Of all groups, they are the most accepting of buying sex in general (50 %), but just 21% of them believed that it was acceptable for a female relative to sell sex.
Currently in the UK, the law on prostitution reflects this hypocrisy by criminalising the supply of sexual services but not the demand.
Although selling sex is not actually illegal, most of the activities that might enable it to be done safely are. Soliciting (advertising sexual services), streetwalking and brothels (where more than one woman sells sex in an apartment) are all illegal. Kerb crawling is also illegal in most of the UK.
Currently paying for sex is legal but the government is considering changing this. Most people agree with this according to the Ipsos-MORI survey: 58% of men and women support making it illegal to pay for sex if it will help reduce women and children trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation.
Harriet Harman, the minister for women and equality, believes that sex-trafficking is changing our attitudes to prostitution. 'Young people are much more likely to find the whole idea of paying for sex unacceptable. We know that paying for sex fuels the demand for trafficked women and children, but we can't talk about tackling demand without challenging cultural attitudes more widely.'
A 2007 research report by the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit showed that the peak age for buying sex is 34, with men aged 20-40 counting for the majority. Most are employed, around half are in a relationship, and more than a fifth have children.
Page created on September 5th, 2008
Page updated on January 16th, 2010