I have often been asked who are the faces behind the men who purchase sex? Is there a particular age, level of education or ethnic background that contributes more to the commercial sex industry over another? Personally, I think it will depend on who you talk to and where they are working. In Lack of a Choice, I introduced Melissa Farley, who also did a study comparing the men who buy sex to men who do not buy sex.
In her study, she found the mean age of men buying sex to be 41 years old. 61% had a wife or serious girlfriend. And on average, the men were twenty-one years old when they first started paying for sex. She found a substantial difference in the attitudes and actions in the men who bought sex regularly verses the men who have only paid for sex once. The regular buyers acknowledged having committed substantially more violent acts against women and believe that prostitution prevents rape. The biggest difference I saw, was that 38% of men who buy sex saw prostitution as sexual exploitation. The men who buy sex are far more likely to normalize prostitution and 93% believe the women should have the “choice” to become a prostitute.
So how do we successfully curb this demand? One way is to increase the penalties of the men, or johns purchasing sex. We can follow the Nordic Model and criminalize the men and decriminalize the women, while offering substantial exit services. We can also implement a john school, an eight-hour prostitution diversion program for first-time offenders run much like a DUI school. This school is aimed at reducing the recidivism rate by educating offenders of the risks and realities behind how their actions contribute to the commercial sex industry including sex trafficking and also further consequences if they continue to purchase sex illegally.
During this program, they will hear from an attorney on the legally implications if they reoffend, they will hear from a doctor or a nurse on potential physical risks including STDs, and other emotional risks. They will also hear from a survivor, how she not only got into prostitution but how it has negatively effected her mentally and physically, and hopefully destroy any myth that she enjoys having sex over and over again. With any luck, this will instill a new sense of compassion and empathy into the john, making him less likely to believe that his actions have little to no consequences.
To date there are over 50 john schools operating across the United States, Canada, South Korea and the United Kingdom. The johns pay anywhere from $0 to $1,500 to attend and in return will have the solicitation charges dropped from their record. There are a few reasons these programs fail outside of financial reasons, but the main reason is the police task force not doing enough reverse stings. A reverse prostitution sting is where the police act as a decoy prostitute and targets male customers. Without the men being picked up for solicitation, they cannot be mandated or choose to attend the john school program.
Comment below and tell me why you think Reno should open and operate its own john school!
PC: Breaking Free