BOSTON – Men who pay for sex are more likely than men who do not pay for sex to commit a variety of offenses including violent crimes against women, according to research conducted in the Boston area.
The study, released this week, was based on interviews with 202 men conducted by the nonprofit group Prostitution Research and Education and was led by Melissa Farley, a clinical psychologist and anti-prostitution activist.
Buyers and non-buyers of commercial sex from the Boston area were paired by age, education and ethnicity to compare their perceptions of women after voluntarily joining the study. About half the men paid for sex and the other half did not.
Men who paid for sex were more likely to report having committed felonies and misdemeanors, including crimes related to violence against women and those related to substance abuse, assault and weapons, the study found.
The study was designed, among other things, to test attitudes of men who buy sex. It found that as a group, they share certain attitudes and behavioral tendencies different from their non-buying peers.
Almost three in four of the sex buyers reported they learned about sex from pornography, whereas only 54% of the non-buyers did so.
The two groups also held significantly different attitudes regarding whether prostitution was consenting sex or exploitation. Men who bought sex were significantly less empathetic toward women working as prostitutes.
Two-thirds of both groups concluded most women prostitutes had been lured, tricked or trafficked into the work.
But sex buyers “seemed to justify their involvement in the sex industry by stating their belief…that women in prostitution were intrinsically different from non-prostituting women,” the study’s authors said.
The majority of both groups, 61% of sex buyers and 70% of non-buyers, currently had a wife or girlfriend.
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