The secrecy often associated with the sex trade, aside from the stigma around prostitution, have made it hard for researchers to find accurate numbers of sex workers and clients who procure sex.
According to research by the University of Huddersfield, the majority of clients tend to be in stable relationships – as for married men, the less happy they are in their marital relationships, the more likely they are to get involved in the sex industry.
Research has also shown that clients come from all social classes and professions – but a profile of an average client can still be drawn: he is aged between 33 and 41 years, is educated, and visited sex workers for the first time during his mid 20’s.
A different study commissioned by the Eaves charity (which specialises in helping victims of violence and human traffic) focused on the client population in London – where there is a larger number of men available to pay for sex.
It found that almost one third of the clients interviewed had sex with prostitutes as their first sexual experience and tended to see their behaviour as normal. After all, the belief that most men go to prostitutes “every now and then” was shared by the majority of clients, even though they felt some sort of negative feeling about paying for sex.
But what are men looking for when they seek prostitutes? Their motives can range from the simple dissatisfaction with their relationships to simple loneliness, the desire of variety on their sexual life or even the search of simple instant sexual gratification.
“You cannot define men who buy sex, because people buy sex for a variety of reasons”, Belinda Brooks-Gordon, a researcher from University of London, says: “what you can do is look at clusters of men who buy sex and then look at the reasons why they buy sex”.
LISTEN: Belinda Brooks-Gordon talks about some of the motives that drive men who pay for sexual services:
One of those groups or clusters, she says, is composed by men that live away from home. “They are more likely to be lonely, to need companionship, human company or intimacy, and the social controls that would prevent them from buying sex at home, as well as the people who provide companionship, are not there”, Ms Brooks-Gordon says – a trend that might also explain why sex tourism to countries like Thailand or the Netherlands is common among clients.
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