Do we really accept that men can’t control themselves? Do we believe that when a man sees a woman or a girl, he can’t control himself and he has to rape her? Do we really accept that?

No of course we don’t believe that. That is infantilising men. It is insulting their humanity.

Like rape, prostitution is not only about sex. It is also about power and men using sex to gain personal power.

Punters tell us this in their own words on websites such as where they can rate the women they buy. It is chilling and disturbing to read their accounts and to see each punter’s lack of awareness that the prostituted woman is a human being with the same needs and hopes and dreams as he has; to see how he never questions his right to expect and demand that she should be ready to satisfy his every whim regardless of her own feelings.

This is what prostitution teaches punters. It feeds their narcissism.

Prostitution survivors tell us the same story. In her powerful speech at Feminism in London 2015, prostitution survivor Rebecca Mott said that punters think their violence is not real violence because “they view the prostituted as sub-human sexual goods. It is nothing happening to nothing.”

Where do the punters go when they leave the prostituted woman at the side of the road or they walk out of the brothel?

They go back to their homes and jobs and leisure activities, carrying their prostitution-inflated sense of narcissistic entitlement with them. Along with their sense that women are other, sub-human.

Together these attitudes make it more likely that they will harass, abuse or rape the other women they meet in their lives. Not less likely.

So it is not true that prostitution stops men raping women. In fact the opposite is true. Prostitution makes the rape and sexual abuse of women and children more likely.

The Journal of Law and Economics study

The Journal of Law and Economics recently published a study that claimed to have found a causal link between the liberalisation and prohibition of prostitution and the incidence of rape. On the basis of this one study, there has been a flurry of posts on social media and elsewhere demanding the legalisation of prostitution.

For an excellent critique of this study, see Do prostitution laws in Europe affect the incidence of rape? – Analysis of a recent study.

Further reading

Page published: 30 March 2016. Note about the Journal of Law and Economics study added on 6 April 2023.