British women are paying for sexual services because they want great sex, are too busy for relationships or do not want to have a conventional relationship.
These are the initial findings of a new study which has been launched into women who
buy sexual services.
The study, led by Dr Sarah Kingston of Lancaster University, and co-led by Dr Natalie Hammond at Manchester Metropolitan University, will potentially be one of the most in-depth analyses of the subject ever undertaken in the
Researchers have spoken to 21 escorts in the UK who are paid for their sexual services. Now they want to speak to their female clients to find out more about the experiences of women who pay for sex. Their early findings reveal that women who
pay for sex come from all backgrounds and ages, although there is a common trend that women are in their thirties and forties.
Dr Kingston, a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University, has research interests in the sex industry, policy and
law. She explained:
We have made some fascinating early findings, but we still have much work to do. We are seeking to explore motivations and experiences of women who book escorts; who and where they buy sex from and
to explore how physical and sexual safety is negotiated.
The study involves interviewing men, women, transgendered and transsexual people who sell sexual services to women, as well as women who purchase sexual services.
We still want to speak to women who buy sexual services. This will be completely confidential and they will not be identified in any way. Phone and Skype interviews have been popular so far, and we are flexible on methods. Speaking
directly with women will provide us with a valuable insight into how and why they engage in this activity.
The research team explained:
Some of our participants say most of the women who buy sex are
professional people, some of whom may simply want pleasurable sexual experiences. Paying an escort is described as a way of ensuring discretion, as opposed to other ways of securing sexual encounters.
In some instances women were
very specific about the services they required. This came across in some interviews with escorts who had one-to-one bookings with women. Escorts relay how women with specific requests email their expectations ahead of meeting.
However, some women also pay for more than just sexual intercourse, they might go for a drink or meal with their chosen escort before progressing onto sexual contact, which some escorts describe as the 'boyfriend experience'.
It is also evident that women purchase sexual services as part of a couple. The majority of the escorts interviewed see couples, stating they are booked for regular excitement and fun, or simply for a relationship treat. In
couples, some men appeared more nervous than their female partner.
From 1st June, 2015 a new law in Northern Ireland criminalising the purchase of sex will come into effect. This will make Northern Ireland the only region of the United Kingdom to adopt the repressive Nordic model, after a similar bill failed to pass in
Scotland in 2013.
The bill was passed in Northern Ireland's Stormont assembly by 81 votes to 10 last October despite research commissioned by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland that concluded that Northern Ireland's adoption of the
Nordic Model would not be in sex workers' best interests.
As we reported last year, the research from Queen's University found that trafficking victims account for less than 3% of people working in the sex trades, fewer than 10 people. More than a
third of clients surveyed believed that paying for sex was already illegal. Of the 171 sex workers questioned, less than 2% supported criminalisation of clients, 61% saying that it would make them less safe.
A press release from the Northern
Ireland Executive was published on 20th May. It said that:
Under section 15 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015, it will become an offence to
obtain sexual services in exchange for payment, either by paying, or promising to pay, any person directly, or through a third party.
This replaces the offence of paying for the sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force,
where it is currently unlawful to pay for the sexual services of a prostitute who has been exploited by a third party using force or threats. This offence, which is an offence whether or not the person buying the services knows of the exploitation,
carries a maximum penalty of a level 3 (£1,000) fine.
Under the new law, it will be illegal to obtain, for payment, sexual services from anyone, whether or not there is exploitation. The sexual services which will be illegal must
involve the buyer being physically present with the seller and there must either be physical sexual contact or the seller must perform sexual acts where they touch themselves for the sexual gratification of the buyer.
legislation, payment includes money or the provision of goods or services.
Anyone convicted under the new legislation can be sentenced to a maximum of one year's imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
It is not
an offence to sell sexual services. The new law also removes criminality from loitering or soliciting for the purposes of offering services as a prostitute in a street or public place. It remains an offence to keep or manage a brothel.
Glasgow City Council has long been a hotbed of PC extremists who advocate that jailing men and destroying their families is a price worth paying so that councillors can feel good about their 'equality'.
Councillor James Coleman has called upon
Justice Minister Michael Matheson to make a public commitment to target and challenge men's demand for paid-for sexual services. He said:
We support the current Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Bill but
believe it is limited by the fact it does not adequately address the cause of commercial sexual exploitation.
We are also fully supportive of the Scottish Government's 'Equally Safe' strategy, which recognises prostitution and
trafficking as forms of commercial sexual exploitation that ultimately harm women.
The city council agreed to call upon the Justice Minister to address the issue of demand, and to introduce comprehensive legislation in Scotland to
criminalise the purchase of sex and to decriminalise and support those exploited through prostitution. The motion, which was seconded by SNP group leader Susan Aitken, was agreed at a meeting of the full council.
Legislation to tackle human trafficking and better protect its victims will be debated by MSPs. The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill was brought forward by the Scottish Government to strengthen existing criminal law against the practice and
enhance the status of and support for victims.
Moralist campaigners inevitably called for the buying of sex to be criminalised as part of the legislation. Churches and Christian organisations proclaimed that the Bill offers a golden opportunity
to make the purchase of sex illegal.
But others such as Amnesty argue that conflating human trafficking and prostitution within one piece of legislation will not do justice to either issue.
Justice secretary Michael Matheson said earlier
this year that he would meet campaigners on both sides before the Scottish Government comes to a final position on the matter. But after taking evidence from a range of groups and organisations, the committee concluded the legislation was not the right
vehicle for addressing the issue of criminalising the buying of sex.