Debates about commercial sex need to move beyond outdated stereotypes that women are sex objects and men are sex predators – desire takes many forms, and the sex industry is no exception to this.’ Dr Sarah Kingston, Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University, said: ‘The End Demand campaign, which seeks to persuade the Government to criminalise the purchase of sex, is premised on the idea that only women sell to men and is based upon research which is over a decade old.
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More than a third of UK escorts advertising on a prominent website identify as male or trans, with more than two-thirds advertising to women, according to new research that paints a surprising picture of the UK sex industry.
Researchers say that calls for national policy to follow the ‘Swedish model’ of criminalising the purchase but not the sale of sex depend upon constructions of sex workers as ‘victimised women’ and their clients as ‘predatory men’.
The new research directly contradicts such assumptions and instead points to a ‘diversity of identities and practices in the contemporary sex industry’.This highlights the need to ‘rethink dominant stereotypes and popular prejudices about sex workers and their clients, and to develop policy that acknowledges and responds to the complex reality of the contemporary UK sex industry’.The report states that the criminalisation of clients will only increase the dangers that sex workers and their clients may face in their attempts to avoid criminal prosecution.The researchers say the Government should consider the ‘wealth of evidence’ demonstrating that criminalisation increases the risks and likelihood of violence.Dr Nicola Smith, Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘These figures underscore the need to challenge dominant prejudices about sex workers and their clients, which mask the complex reality of the sex industry today.By the year 2000, the internet, and access to it had grown large enough for some in the sex industry to see it as a marketing tool.