MYTH: Prostitution is about men buying women for sexual exploitation.

  • Not all clients are male, not all sex workers are female, and not all interactions are heterosexual.
  • In fact, the number of male sex workers and female clients has been steadily rising.
  • Clients are retaining a service, not buying a person.
  • Sex workers set boundaries about the services they provide, and refuse service when those boundaries are not respected.
  • Abuse and exploitation in commercial sex are fueled most by making it a crime and depriving people of rights, especially legal recourse.

MYTH: Clients see the people they hire for sex as disposable, don’t care about their well-being, and have a greater propensity for violence.

MYTH: Clients are pathetic losers who can’t get dates or sustain meaningful relationships.

  • Many clients are in relationships, but turn to sex workers to address unmet needs.
  • Some sex workers specialize in addressing the needs of disabled clients.
  • Sex work clients have diverse and complex reasons for retaining the services of sex workers.

MYTH: The “Swedish model” of arresting and prosecuting clients will end demand for prostitution.

MYTH: The vast majority of women selling sex are controlled by pimps and traffickers; criminalizing prostitution is the best way to fight sex trafficking.


MYTH: People who sell sex routinely experience violence and abuse at the hands of pimps and clients; most prostitutes suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • The most reliable research shows that police are the biggest perpetrators of violence and abuse against sex workers.
  • The only source for the PTSD claim is a discredited paper by Melissa Farley, an avowed opponent of sex workers’ rights who used a 15-minute self-administered questionnaire; the National Center for PTSD considers such a method to have “poor validity”.
  • Many sex workers take precautions to reduce their risk of being abused or attacked, such as screening potential clients.
  • Full decriminalization gives sex workers more power to protect themselves and get legal recourse against abuses.

MYTH: The average age of entry into prostitution is thirteen.

MYTH: The Super Bowl and other major sporting events are magnets for sex traffickers.

  • This claim has been repeated by many who confuse consensual sex work with trafficking, but without any proof.
  • Law enforcement and “anti-trafficking” groups routinely claim tens of thousands of “victims” at such events – but actual evidence shows few if any cases uncovered.
  • The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women considers these claims “based on misinformation, poor data, and a tendency to sensationalize”, and raises the question of whether police efforts waste resources and do more harm than good.