Why do some men buy sex while others abstain or even decry such damaging and degrading acts? If we are to eliminate demand for illegal commercial sex, we must understand the attitudes, backgrounds, and behaviors that prevent some men but allow others to purchase a woman’s body.

Prostitution, Research and Education sheds more light on these critical questions in a new report based on 202 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with men in the Greater Boston area. The report, “Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex,” received financial and logistical support from Demand Abolition and Hunt Alternatives Fund.

The report brings to light significant findings:

  • Men who buy the bodies of others for sex differ from non-sex buyers in their self-reported likelihood to rape; they acknowledge having committed significantly more sexually coercive acts against women.
  • Buyers are far more likely than non-buyers to commit substance abuse, assaults, weapons, and crimes against authority.
  • Men know what they’re doing. Two thirds of buyers and non-buyers recognize that a majority of prostituted women are lured, tricked, or trafficked into “the life.”
  • Buyers of sex justify their behavior by declaring that prostituted women are essentially different from non-prostituted women.
  • Compared with non-buyers, significantly fewer buyers (70 to 46 percent) report that they were taught about respect for women in sex education classes.

The “good” news is that the men interviewed shared ways they would be deterred from purchasing sex, including being arrested, paying increased fines, spending significant time in jail, facing public recognition of the crime, being placed on the sex offender registry, and receiving education about how prostitution harms the women and children.

The study is a powerful tool that policymakers, criminal justice professionals, educators, and practitioners—not only in Boston, but around the nation—can use in creating policy, programs, and public discourse around eliminating demand for commercial sex.

Download Report

Full Report: Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex
PDF – 1,389k
July 2011

Disclaimer from Hunt Alternatives Fund
PDF – 24k
July 2011

Press Coverage

Buyers of sex must be held accountable
Boston Globe
August 8, 2011

Lina Nealon on The Emily Rooney Show
WGBH
August 4, 2011

Buyer’s remorse needed in sex trade
Boston Herald
August 1, 2011

Men Who Buy Sex Commit More Crimes, Study Finds
New York Times
July 20, 2011

The John Next Door
Newsweek
July 18, 2011

New study examines sex industry in US
MSNBC
July 18, 2011