“‘John schools’ try to change attitudes about paid sex” reports on welcome efforts to focus on the demand side of prostitution (8/28/09):

‘John schools’ try to change attitudes about paid sex

…Across the country, about 50 communities are using John Schools. Atlanta, Georgia, and Baltimore, Maryland, are among dozens more cities that plan to launch similar programs by the end of the year…

…experts estimate 1 million to 2 million prostitutes work in the United States…

Experts add that easy accessibility to prostitutes and pornography on the Internet are feeding the problem…

A woman who called herself Alexis, a 35-year-old former prostitute with dark hair and bright blue eyes, spoke to the men as the class came to an end. Four years ago, she left the streets and now works at a factory.

By the age of 10, Alexis had learned to barter with sex with her stepfather. In her 20s, she found herself hooked on drugs and selling her body. She was arrested more than 80 times. She was hospitalized after someone shot her on the job…

Some evidence suggests that John Schools are working. A study released in 2008 by Abt Associates Inc. for the federal government looked at the John School program in San Francisco, California. It’s one of the largest programs in the country; more than 7,000 johns have attended since 1995.

According to the study, the re-arrest rate fell sharply after the school was launched, and stayed more than 30 percent lower for 10 years afterward…

A recent study by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation conducted among johns in Chicago, Illinois, found that 41 percent of them said John School would deter them from buying sex, compared with 92 percent who said being placed on a sex offender registry would scare them from re-offending…

See also:

Newsweek: “A School for Johns”
…The San Francisco program shows it is possible to appeal to the customers’ sense of “empathy for those harmed,” says Michael Shively, a sociologist who reviewed the program for the Department of Justice, which provides some of its funding. Shively’s study [PDF], released in May, found that recidivism rates of those who completed “Johns school” were 30 percent less likely to be rearrested for soliciting sex than were men who did not opt for the program. And an earlier study of a similar program in Buffalo, N.Y., resulted in an 87.5 percent drop in the recidivism rate for attendees. Shively admits he was skeptical at first. “It didn’t seem realistic that one eight-hour day of talking at men would change their behavior,” he says. “Now I’m an advocate.”

PBS: “John Schools” (5/30/08)
They hear first-hand from former prostitutes, like Kira, about what life as a prostitute is really like. She tells them about the sexual abuse she endured as a child, starting at the age of 3, how she was paid for sex as a teenager, and became addicted to drugs. She recounts the violence and rape that many prostitutes experience while working on the streets.

Media Watch: “Censored Truth”
“Other important steps are changing attitudes through education. Norma Hotaling’s school for johns is proving to help with part of that equation. The school allows first time offenders to remove the arrest from their record if they spend a day in school. These men pay approximately $500.00 to learn about the seriousness of second-offenses and sexually transmitted diseases. Most importantly, during the seminar former prostitutes tell them the truth about what it is like to be a prostitute. Out of 900 participants only three have since been arrested on similar charges. This school, which began in San Francisco, is being replicated in Toronto, Portland, Oregon and scores of other cities are considering joining them.”

How to Deter Johns from Buying Sex
…some 89% would stop using prostitutes if “named and shamed” on the sex offenders’ register.

Prostitution looks chic, but truth is ugly (Chicago Tribune, 4/27/08)
A comprehensive 2004 mortality study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that workplace homicide rates for women working in prostitution are 51 times that of the next most dangerous occupation for women (which is working in a liquor store). The average age of death of the women studied was 34.

Puncturing Alan Dershowitz’s Delusions about Prostitution
Levitt and Sudhir Venkatesh analyzed arrest records and sexual transactions in Chicago. Far from earning a thousand dollars an hour, prostitutes typically receive $25-30 per hour. The risks of getting a disease are high–condoms are used in only a quarter of tricks. The average prostitute experiences one violent assault a month…

Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations

Prostitution Research & Education: How Prostitution Works
Real sexual relationships are not hard to find. There are plenty of adults of both sexes who are willing to have sex if someone treats them well, and asks. But there lies the problem. Some people do not want an equal, sharing relationship. They do not want to be nice. They do not want to ask. They like the power involved in buying a human being who can be made to do almost anything.

Why Do Johns Buy Sex?
It is difficult for a woman to understand what it is that a prostitute can offer these perfectly attractive men that a free sexual encounter — be it a one-night-stand or in a relationship — cannot…

Disconcertingly, the men to whom I spoke suggested that lack of any emotional obligation is one of the most appealing attributes of paying for sex…

…When a man visits a prostitute, the mere act of handing over cash for services removes, in his mind, all emotional obligations to her.

“Money displaces the emotions. It frees you from that bond, that responsibility,” explains Sam. “The distance you get from exchanging cash for sex means that afterwards you don’t contemplate the impact on the prostitute.”

Escort Prostitution: A Response to Tom Vannah, Editor of the Valley Advocate
While a few women may choose a life of prostitution in a truly voluntary fashion, the reality for most is a history of sexual and/or child abuse, separation from their family and/or country, and poverty. Addictions to drugs or alcohol are common. They are routinely lied to, coerced, abused, threatened, and blackmailed (e.g. ‘I’ll hurt your family back in the Ukraine if you don’t cooperate’).

When a “progressive” outlet like the Advocate runs ads for commercial sex enterprises, it not only publicizes them but legitimizes them. It also puts a big dent in the Advocate’s moral authority. If the Advocate truly wants to be a friend to underdogs, it needs to side with them over callous profiteers.

Even Dan Savage Has a Clue about the Realities of Prostitution

Our Poster to the Valley Advocate: “Stand up for women! Drop your Massage/Escort ads”

MSNBC Investigates Human Trafficking and Prostitution in the US; Valley Advocate Advertises “Foreign Fantasies” Where “Everything Goes”

Not For Sale Media Project; Downloadable Posters

Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

Abolishing Prostitution: The Swedish Solution – An Interview with Gunilla Ekberg by the Rain and Thunder Collective

Dorchen Leidholdt, “Demand and the Debate”

Hunt Alternatives Fund: Demand Abolition