Editor’s note: Paying for s.e.x is taboo – nobody wants to admit doing it. It is gross, weird, or even perverse. At least that is what some people say. But there is a huge market for paid s.e.x. Love Matters Africa’s Stephanie Haase takes a look at some of the things you should know about paid s.e.x.
1. What is paid s.e.x and where does it happen?
Paid s.e.x, or prostitution, means paying someone for s.e.xual services. The payment can be cash, but it can also be through gifts and favors. The person who is getting paid is called a s.e.x worker, pros_titute or a range of other, often demeaning, words.
s.e.x workers can be either woman or men. Male s.e.x workers offer their services to other men, too. If they are not gay themselves, this is sometimes called ‘gay-to-pay’. s.e.x workers sell s.e.x for a variety of reasons, and sometimes it can be a means to buy drugs or because of poverty. This is known as ‘survival s.e.x’.
There are many places for paid s.e.x. Some s.e.x workers offer their services on the streets, others work in brothels, or as escorts, who offer their services in hotels or private homes.
Most prostitutes service over five clients a night and only use condoms 60% of the time.
Because s.e.x workers get in contact with many different clients, there is a relatively high risk of getting an STDs from a visit. And because that’s not what you are paying for, using condo_ms is even more important in the s.e.x trade than in other casual s.e.x encounters.
3. Paid s.e.x and the law
Prostitution is illegal in many countries, our included.
Whether or not you think paying for s.e.x is okay is up to your personal beliefs and ideas. But depending on where you live, paying for s.e.x, or being paid for s.e.x, can be illegal.
In some countries, like in Russia or China, prosti_tution is illegal and considered a crime. Elsewhere, like in the Netherlands, prosti_tution is a legitimate, but regulated, business.
A local UNICEF reports, estimates that 30% of children between ages 12 and 18 have engaged in some kind of s.e.x work!
Having s.e.x with someone without their consent is rape, which is of course a crime. This is also true if you know that the person is being forced to have s.e.x with you for money against their will.
4. Paid s.e.x in numbers
The oldest trade in the world will never be eradicated, it will continue to thrive as long as men are willing to pay. A simple supply-and-demand equation
Finding out how many people are buying s.e.x is even more difficult. Anywhere between 8 and 80% of men will buy s.e.x at least once – but as so often with s.e.x research, it is hard to know what and whom to believe.
In terms of countries, Cambodia seems to have the most men buying s.e.x, with an estimated 59 to 80% having paid at least once in their lives.
5. Paid s.e.x outside the box
s.e.x tourism, on the other hand, brings tourists, often from Western countries, in contact with s.e.x workers abroad.
Paid s.e.x can also be somewhat heart-warming: there are prosti_tutes specializing in offering services to people with disabilities or the elderly, so they can experience pleasure, too.
Similarly, a few years back, nurses, patient organisations and patients in the Netherlands debated whether s.e.xual services should be part of home nursing schemes – so far, they have not reached any conclusions.
s.e.x tourism, on the other hand, brings tourists, often from Western countries, in contact with s.e.x workers abroad. It is a multi-billion dollar business, and, as long as all people involved are consenting adults in countries where prosti_tution is legal, it is fine, but it often gets associated with child prostitution and human trafficking.
And humans are not the only ones engaging in prosti_tution – some penguin and monkey species also exchange s.e.x for favours!