18 Nov 2014

‘Why I pay for sex’

As a new study reveals more than one in 10 British men has paid for sex, one man tells Channel 4 News that “the guilt overwhelms the enjoyment”.

Couple having sex

Eleven per cent of males surveyed reported that they had paid for sex. The most likely to pay were 25 to 34-year-old males in managerial or professional jobs. The proportion of women who reported paying for sex was around 0.1 per cent.

Of the men who had reported paying for sex, 62 per cent said that they had done so outside of the UK, most often in Europe and Asia.

Adam*, a 23-year-old male from London, told Channel 4 News why he chooses to pay for sex. 

As a young professional, I have to admit that I have paid for making love in couple of instances.

The primary reason for me having to do this is I juggle a very busy line of work. My social life therefore has taken a hit.

I don't earn much when compared to the average earning of a Londoner. So this is not about me having disposable income.

I do it to release stress and to have something to look forward to. I don't refer to the partners as escorts but rather friends with benefits.

I vaguely mentioned this to one of my friends once when I said to him that I am spending too much with girls, but I did not go into any specifics. We sort of left it at that.

I have not mentioned it to my other friends, first due to the moral element of this being wrong.

The sex in general is only enjoyable during the process. The guilt feeling afterwards overwhelms the enjoyment. Therefore the overall experience is negative.

If it was not for the stress and pressures of my work and professional development, I would rather have sex after marriage to be honest as I am very morally conservative.

* Names have been changed to protect identities

Of the 6,108 men surveyed, 3.6 per cent reported paying for sex in the last five years, and 1.1 per cent reported paying for sex in the last year.

The University College London (UCL) study found that those who paid for sex in the past five years were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, even after adjusting for the fact that they were likely to have had more sex.

“The picture that emerges does not necessarily fit the stereotype of the lonely older man,” says Dr Cath Mercer from UCL’s infection and population health department.

“In fact, men who pay for sex are more likely to be young professionals with many unpaid sexual partners. Paying for sex may also seem more permissible abroad, at a place removed from the day-to-day lives of most men.”

The men were surveyed between 2010 and 2012. All were aged between 17 and 74 years old and answered questions in a computer-based anonymous interview.

Report by Harry Horton