Demand Abolition: “Boston Sex Buyers Report”

Last month we noted noted Newsweek’s article on “The John Next Door”. Here is more detail on the underlying report, published in July with support from Demand Abolition and the Hunt Alternatives Fund:

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.

Melissa Farley of 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.

Click to access the full report and related media coverage

Here is a 5-minute MSNBC segment on the report featuring an interview with Demand Abolition’s Lina Nealon:



See also:

New Report: “Targeting the Sex Buyer – The Swedish Example: Stopping Prostitution and Trafficking Where It All Begins”

Guardian: “Why men use prostitutes” “‘John schools’ try to change attitudes about paid sex”