These are the johns I know I know these are the johns I know

Malarek examines the demand side of global prostitution

Canadian journalist Victor Malarek’s last book The Natashas was an exposé of the international sex trade and the rise in global sex trafficking. While researching material for that book he became fascinated by the other side of prostitution: the johns who support the industry and make it a thriving global business. In the introduction to his new book The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It he writes: “Like so many men I had been programmed from a young age to accept all the lame excuses I’d heard about the flesh trade: that these women were making money the easy way on their backs; that it was all about sex and no one was being hurt; that the women chose to be in this so-called profession.” Eventually he realized how false some of his assumptions were.

Malarek examines prostitution through the different facets of the industry. He begins with the Internet and through discussions in online chat rooms learns more about why johns buy sex. From those who have been burned by relationships to buyers who just want to get what they pay for without emotional entanglements Malarek scrutinizes the justifications that lie at the heart of the sex industry. Regardless of any moral viewpoint about sex for sale the global sex industry thrives because of supply and demand.

The johns does not male-bash. On the contrary it offers a balanced look at the global economics of the sex trade and the risks participants face from the perspective of the johns. His discussion of a controversial program called John School aimed at educating offenders in San Francisco reveals the health financial and safety risks men take when they buy sex from strangers. Malarek also takes a hard look at the sexual tourism industry and the ease with which travellers can travel to countries like Costa Rica and Thailand for sex holidays. Sex tourism is a growth industry and the money it generates for poor economies is staggering.

The politically correct script of prostitution as a victimless crime among consenting adults is called into question when Malarek looks at how the increasing demand for services is filled by international sex trafficking and fuelled by the drug industry. The pervasive argument that legalizing the sex trade would take it out of the criminal economy is weakened when he examines countries such as the Netherlands that tried with poor results. He makes a compelling argument that Sweden which has successfully decreased illegal sexual trafficking by decriminalizing (not legalizing) prostitution and putting the onus on societal change has created a global model that other countries could follow.