Paid sex: top five facts
mark wragg

Paid sex: Top Five Facts

By Stephanie Haase Friday, August 30, 2013 - 11:30
Paying for sex is taboo – nobody wants to admit doing it. It's gross, weird, or even perverse. At least that's what some people say. But there's a huge market for paid sex. Learn more about what paid sex is about in this week's top five facts.
  1. What is paid sex and where does it happen?Paid sex, or prostitution, means paying someone for sexual services. The payment can be cash, but it can also be through gifts and favors. The person who is getting paid is called a sex worker, prostitute or a range of other, often demeaning, words. Sex workers can be either woman or men. Male sex workers offer their services to other men, too. If they aren't gay themselves, this is sometimes called 'gay-to-pay'.Sex workers sell sex for a variety of reasons, and sometimes it can be a means to buy drugs or because of poverty. This is known as 'survival sex'.For some sex workers, selling sex is their own choice – although they may feel they don’t have a choice because of the circumstances. Other sex workers are forced into sex by pimps or human traffickers. The may use threats or violence to make the sex workers hand over some or all of the money they earn.There are many places for paid sex. Some sex workers offer their services on the streets, others work in brothels, or as escorts, who offer their services in hotels or private homes.
  2. Condomise!Because sex 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 condoms is even more important in the sex trade than in other casual sex encounters. In Asia, men buying sex are the most important factor in the spread of the HIV epidemic, according to the Commission on AIDS in Asia. In India, an average of 5 percent of sex workers are estimated to be HIV-positive, with percentages as high as 18 in some regions, like Maharashtra, and 13 percent in Manipur. Another reason to use condoms every time!
  3. Paid sex and the lawWhether or not you think paying for sex is okay is up to your personal beliefs and ideas. But depending on where you live, paying for sex, or being paid for sex, can be illegal. In some countries, like in Russia or China, prostitution is illegal and considered a crime. Elsewhere, like in the Netherlands, prostitution is a legitimate, but regulated, business.In India, prostitution is also legal, and there are even less regulations around it. There are a few rules though: owning or managing a brothel is illegal and so is pimping. Pimping, or pandering, means acting as an agent for a prostitute in exchange for a cut of the earnings. However, unlike in the Netherlands, in India it's illegal to advertise sexual services. Having sex 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 sex with you for money against their will.
  4. Paid sex in numbersIn India, there were about three million sex workers in 2007, according to the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Or 20 million, if you prefer to believe in the numbers of Human Rights Watch. Mumbai is the capital of sex workers, with at least 200,000 prostitutes working in the city.Finding out how many people are buying sex is even more difficult. Anywhere between 8 and 80 percent of men will buy sex at least once – but as so often with sex research, it's hard to know what and whom to believe. In terms of countries, Cambodia seems to have the most men buying sex, with an estimated 59 to 80 percent having paid at least once in their lives.
  5. Paid sex outside the boxPaid sex can also be somewhat heart-warming: there are prostitutes 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 sexual services should be part of home nursing schemes - so far, they haven't reached any conclusions. Sex tourism, on the other hand, brings tourists, often from Western countries, in contact with sex workers abroad. It's a multibillion dollar business, and, as long as all people involved are consenting adults in countries where prostitution is legal, it's fine, but it often gets associated with child prostitution and human trafficking.And humans aren't the only ones engaging in prostitution – some penguin and monkey species also exchange sex for favours!

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