Fact Sheet on the Demand Side of Human Trafficking

These statistics provide an overview of the men who choose to purchase sex.

Who They Are:

  • 62% of interviewees identified as having a regular sex partner (girlfriend or wife).
  • The age when men first bought sex ranged from 10 to 52. The average age was 21.
  • 39% of interviewees were regular pornography consumers. Interviewees frequently mentioned reenacting pornography with women in prostitution.
  • 14% of interviewees had been in the armed forces, and 50% of those men had purchased sex during military service.
  • 22% of interviewees felt guilty and/or shameful the majority of the time they purchased sex.
  • For 20% of men, prostitution was their first sexual experience.

Why They Do It:

  •  46-48% of interviewees buy sex to obtain sex acts they could not get from a partner or are ashamed to ask of a partner.
  • 83% consider buying sex an addiction.
  • 19% purchase sex to obtain a sense of companionship.
  • Cultural reasons such as pornography (49% thought of women in porn as prostitutes), constructions of masculinity (didn’t want people to think they weren’t a man), and workplace culture that may encourage the purchase of sex.

Men’s Acknowledgment of Why Women Enter Prostitution:

  • 66% of interviewees stated that women become prostitutes out of economic necessity and 27% thought that the majority of women in the sex trade are homeless.
  • 57% of all interviewees believed that the majority of women in prostitution experienced some type of childhood sexual abuse.
  • 25% of the men had encountered a woman in the sex industry who they believe was forced into prostitution.

Men’s Acknowledgement of Harms to Women in Prostitution:

  •  49% of interviewees said that prostitution exploits a woman’s sexuality. 42% stated that prostitution causes both psychological and physical damage.
  •  13% had seen an act of violence perpetrated against a women in prostitution.
  •  80% of interviewees thought that prostitution had an overall negative impact on communities. They specifically mentioned the negative impacts of increasing crime (29%), being a bad influence on children (28%), and devaluing the neighborhood (24%).
  •  21% of interviewees did not think that it was possible for women in prostitution to be raped.
  • 75% of men had observed a woman in prostitution with a pimp, and 40% had bought a woman in prostitution who they identified as having a pimp or manager. 27% of interviewees described the prostitute-pimp relationship as exploitative and harmful.

Crime and Legality:

  • Estimates suggest that “for every john arrested for attempting to buy sex, there are up to 50 women in prostitution arrested.”

These statistics were gathered from a 2008 Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation report titled, “Deconstructing The Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights From Interviews With Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex,” and Melissa Farley’s research with the Prostitution Research and Education Organization.


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