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International News

Australia: Sex Education Turns Up Some Surprises

October 16, 2009

The profile of female sex worker clients is not a stereotypical dirty old man, but rather the well-educated, married male between the ages of 30-50 who has a good job and travels extensively, according to research from a scientist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Philip Burch, a criminology lecturer at UNSW, said his research indicates the men's motivations for visiting sex workers include the fact that it is easily available, they are interested in having sex a different way or they want a particular sexual service. Often, he said, their wives know about their husbands' activities.

Burch used 18 of his final-year criminology students as research assistants, analyzing 200 responses to a questionnaire from male clients and 20 face-to-face interviews with clients and sex workers. The team also conducted an extensive literature review, examining research into sex workers in a human rights and legislative context.

"A lot of us came into the project with preconceived feelings about both the clients and the sex workers," said Kate Scherr, one of the assistants. "Some of us thought the men would be real deviants having sex with fat, vulgar women -- images we get from the media."

Burch said the research shows New South Wales' approach to sex work is "an ideal international regards to liberal legislation and also a safe and healthy working environment, where sex workers have to be registered and have sex in a safe-house."

The province has the lowest transmission of HIV and STDs between clients and sex workers of any country in the world, Burch noted. "I tell my students that you are much more likely to get chlamydia or gonorrhea by having sex with the person sitting next to you in class than having sex with a female sex worker" in NSW, he said.

Back to other news for October 2009

Adapted from:
Sydney Morning Herald
10.10.2009; Melinda Ham

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More About Research on Sex Workers