A few years ago, feminists in Hungary ran a publicity campaign aimed at helping men to understand the harms of prostitution and how the money they pay for sexual access to women and girls drives the whole exploitative prostitution system, right up to the sex trafficking of children.
The Hungarian women, part of the Hungary without Prostitution movement, have generously given us permission to use the photo that was central to the campaign and translations of the key messages they used on their posters.
We have created postcards and hope they will help start a conversation with men.
If you live in the UK and would like a pack of these postcards to give to local community and youth groups or to leave in men’s changing rooms, etc., you can get some in our shop.
On the front is Lenke Szilágyi’s iconic photo of the seven men shot from behind, with the text:
“Approximately one in seven men
buy vulnerable women and children for sexual use…”
On the back is the following text, superimposed on a splash of blood:
“… while the women take the blame for everything + beatings + torture + pregnancy + STIs, HIV & AIDS + gang rape + torn guts and anus.
Prostitution = paid for abuse.
WE WILL NOT COVER UP FOR YOU ANYMORE.”
Where did the one in seven men figure come from?
The Key Facts section of a 2016 report by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) said:
“Around 11% of British men aged 16–74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals.”
In our response to the report, we pointed out that according other figures in the same Key Facts section, nearly two million men buy sex in the UK every week. If this is true, it is inconceivable that there are only 2.3 million men who have ever bought a human being for sex in the UK.
The fact is that there has been very little research on punters in the UK. The Home Office recently commissioned research into prostitution in England and Wales but did not include any research into punters. We know that people don’t always tell researchers the absolute truth about their private lives, particularly about things that they know to be shameful. It is therefore hard to know exactly what proportion of men are punters.
When we were considering using this photo, we discussed whether to follow the Hungarian women and use the approximately one in seven figure – reflecting the seven men in the photo.
One in seven men is equivalent to 14%, which is only a little higher than the HASC’s 11% – which we have shown is almost certainly an underestimate. A large US study found that 20% of men buy sex over their lifetimes. We therefore decided that we are justified in suggesting that approximately one in seven men in the UK are punters.