Real Sportsmen Don’t Buy Sex

Men: This is something hugely important to think about.

Just because a woman says she agrees to consensual sex with you does not mean that this is true. Sexually exploited women, whose lives are threatened and whose families are also at risk of being abused, learn to say “yes” when they want to say “no.”

The Sports Pledge is designed to Empower, Respect & Protect, and it makes it very clear that buying sex is fraught with unseen and unknown problems.

As Max Waltman from Stockholm University found regarding a study conducted of prostitutes and their view of their work, 89% of prostitutes wanted to escape prostitution but did not know how to do so.

Take a look at some important facts that should make you think twice before buying sex.

Criminalize Only the Buying of Sex

Max Waltman is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stockholm University who has written about sexual exploitation and pornography in Canada, Sweden, and the United States.

Not to be bought and sold for sex should be a human right. Sweden effectively recognized this in 1999, criminalizing buying sex and decriminalizing being in prostitution. This law has been adopted in full by Norway and Iceland, partly in Korea, Finland, Israel, and the United Kingdom. France may enact it.

The Swedish model recognizes that prostitution is an institution of inequality. Most people in prostitution enter as children after being sexually abused. Lacking education and resources to survive, often destitute and homeless, they are easy prey to pimps and johns. Sexism and racism lock them in, as in the United States, where African-American women and girls are overrepresented in prostitution, as are native Canadian women in Canada.

When Sweden banned the purchase of sex, prostitution decreased.

Prostitution generally inflicts such trauma that escape is virtually impossible without social support. A study of 854 prostituted persons in nine countries, indoors and outdoors, found that 89 percent wanted to escape prostitution but felt they could not, and that two-thirds met clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress equal to that of treatment-seeking Vietnam veterans and victims of torture or rape. A Korean study in 2009 found prostitution strongly related to post-traumatic stress, even controlling for prior childhood abuse.

The wrong people are arrested in the United States when prostituted persons are criminals. Their situation of discrimination and subordination merits protection from official complicity in their victimization under the 14th Amendment. Sweden’s law identified prostitution as a form of sex inequality connected to gender-based violence, with johns as central in the exploitation and abuse.

Under the sex purchase law, prostitution and trafficking have drastically decreased in Sweden even as the number of prostituted women has increased in neighboring countries. Some claim that the Swedish law made street prostitution more dangerous, but an official 2010 evaluation found such allegations, with those of a “hidden” market, to be unfounded.

The superiority of the Swedish approach contrasts with the Ontario Court of Appeals. Compelling evidence shows that across-the-board decriminalization supports sex trafficking without improving health, safety or control of organized crime, as demand for unsafe and dangerous sex rises exponentially. Decriminalization is a failed experiment.

In 2011, Sweden amended the law so survivors can claim damages against johns for violating their equality and dignity, supporting crime victims’ social welfare assistance, hence the ability to leave prostitution that its victims overwhelmingly say they want, and human beings deserve.

Stolen Smiles

Research conducted by Dr. Cathy Zimmerman, a founding member of the Gender Health and Violence Centre (GHVC), put the physical and mental health of women trafficked for sexual exploitation firmly on the international agenda.
Between 2000 and 2003, Zimmerman conducted a qualitative study on women’s health and trafficking in the European Union that highlights the health risks and impacts for the victims.


The study has made exceptional advances in shedding light on trafficking. It has:

Generated the first-ever guidance for health providers caring for trafficking victims

Resulted in the U.K. giving trafficked women a longer period to decide whether to cooperate with any criminal

investigation against their traffickers, and police training on the symptoms of victimization and interview timing to support recovery

Stolen Smiles was carried out between 2003 and 2005. The study:

Surveyed 207 women in seven European countries who had been trafficked into sex work or sexually abused as domestic laborers
Was the first to use epidemiological methods to investigate the physical, sexual, and mental health of trafficked women and adolescents


Trafficked women had high levels of injury, pain, and sexually transmitted infections, for which they were often unable to seek treatment.

The greatest problem by far was mental health, with 58% of women showing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder at 14 days after entry into post-trafficking services.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety were in the 90th percentile compared to a general population of adult women who had not been trafficked.

For over 50% of trafficked women, these symptoms did not decrease significantly even 90 days after entering an assistance program.

Based on this research, Zimmerman collaborated with Amnesty International U.K. to recommend that people who had been trafficked should be given a minimum 90-day period in which to decide whether to cooperate with any criminal investigation into their traffickers. This period would provide time for many women’s mental health to improve, enabling them to make more well-considered decisions.

While the U.K. Home Office stopped short of extending this period to 90 days, it increased the period from 30 to 45 days, exceeding the minimum required by the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking. This extension was influenced significantly by Zimmerman’s and Amnesty International U.K.’s advocacy.