What's your sex number? Why are women still lying? As well as aiming to demonstrate trends over time, the survey also examines topics like attitudes towards the law, the age at which subjects started buying sex, and their other sexual relationships.
Chris Atchison of the University of Victoria designed both studies. He notes that the later survey includes more questions about the nature of buying sex and client experiences with sex workers. UK researcher Teela Sanders, meanwhile, wrote a book discussing the phenomenon of paying for sex. In it, she notes: With both in play, it certainly indicates that a straight "End Demand" approach, which only addresses pull factors but not push factors, could expect to only have a limited impact, and believing that forcing sex underground will make people not pay for it is incredibly naive.
Interestingly, the research also suggests that one of the "pull factors" for men who buy sex is because it is illicit and they are attracted to the idea of getting away with it. No doubt while some people would be put off by criminalisation of buying sex, others would find the exact opposite. And indeed in the US, where both selling and buying are criminalised, there's no indication criminal status does much to discourage punters.
Don't want to know? Which brings us the big question or money shot, if you will: It seems that it is statistically less uncommon than most people imagine. As with so many things, whether or not you actually broach the subject should be the topic of much thought. Like with the question of your number of ex-sex partners … would you really want to know?
Perhaps the best policy is, if the outcome would completely change the way you think of someone, then perhaps it's better left unasked. The case for criminalising punters has lately been made by Labour MEP Mary Honeyball whose report on sex work was voted on in European Parliament last month.
I watched Honeyball's vote as it streamed online. If you are the sort of person who thinks fans of policy and sausages should not watch the creation of either, I can assure you Brussels is absolutely the Heston Blumenthal of sausage-making: It passed, though it is only a symbolic victory.
It does not have the force of law. It does however signal a move in this country, following Rhoda Grant's failed bill in the Scottish parliament last year, to continue pushing the criminalisation of punters. Do things need to change? Most people on both sides of the issue agree that yes, they do. But what's astounding are the column inches the 'Swedish Model' of criminalising punters has commanded when few if any benefits to public safety have been shown.
For example, both saunas and the percentage of men who have bought sex have gone up since the law was made… oops. Meanwhile, the 'Merseyside Model,' which instead proposes to treat crimes against sex workers as hate crimes, has gained a staggering number of signees to a key petition - over 50, at last count - but very little in the way of mainstream publicity. What the Merseyside police have done since is to categorise any reports of violence against sex workers as hate crimes.
What this has helped achieve is an incredible 67 per cent conviction rate. While some opponents of sex work are happy to categorise all clients of sex workers as potentially dangerous, the truth is that criminals use the stigmatised status to prey on the vulnerable while few real punters "turn violent". And it has often been the case that murderers who whet their blade on women in sex work often go on to threaten other women as well. This was the crux of the criticism to do with the Jill Meagher case in Australia last year.
Meagher, an Irish national who was working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation at the time, was raped and murdered in Melbourne. It emerged during the trial of her killer Adrian Bayley that he was also responsible for a string of attacks since But because his extensive history of violence was previously against sex workers, some suggested that was why he was never brought to justice before he could murder Jill.
In Melbourne, licensed brothels are legal but working elsewhere is not: Of course, for something like the Merseyside Model to really work, we would need to re-educate law enforcement across the country and make systems where everyone could report attacks in confidence. It allow information from sex workers about dangerous clients to be passed on to other people who may be affected and to the police, if agreed by the person reporting.
However, it suffers from chronic underfunding. Programs like this which seek to prevent crime - not only prosecute it - should be a social priority, and yet, they are not. The focus on who the clients are is a hot topic right now in debates about sex work.
Only a handful of politicians have spoken up for 'New Zealand model' style decriminalisation, such as Jean Urquhart and Margo MacDonald , both in Scotland.
But in all the discussion, we risk taking the focus away from the men and women who actually are sex workers and what they are asking for.
Just like Mary Honeyball on Newsnight last month, talking over the only sex worker invited to the debate. This government promised us 'evidence based policy,' and we need to remind them that first-hand experience is the best evidence we have.