Who buys sex?

February 27, 2019 | Swanee Hunt

Sadly, I’m not surprised.

On Friday, the news was everywhere that billionaire Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting sex at a massage parlor in Florida. What the headlines don’t convey, though, is the suffering of the women who were forced to live in the back of a strip mall in squalid conditions and have unprotected sex with likely more than a thousand men per year.

As part of our ten-year-old Demand Abolition initiative, I’ve worked closely with survivors of prostitution to stop johns from buying the bodies of women and girls. I know from their stories that their buyers span all walks of life. It took a rich and powerful man getting caught to make headlines, but there are johns living in communities all across our country.

To end the exploitation of women like those at the Florida massage parlor, we need to better understand the men who are the customers. Research on sex trafficking (which lives inside prostitution) has focused mostly on the “supply” side of the market. We’re illuminating the other half. It’s actually the demand, the buyers, who fuel this equation.

Today, we’re sharing the results of the largest study to date on men’s sex-buying habits. Working with researchers at the University of Portland, we surveyed more than 8,000 males from across the US.

Most important, the study uncovers what deters men from buying sex and offers concrete policy recommendations to reduce the demand.

The anonymous 8,000 men gave us fascinating information. For example:

  • What percentage of men have ever bought sex (20%) and how frequently
  • What they believe about the women and girls they’re buying
  • How much they typically spend on a transaction
  • Their ethnicity, age, and income
  • What age they typically start buying sex
  • What would stop them

Click here to learn more.