And boys too…

A non-regular commenter on Feminist Critics wrote this:

In many (most/all?) countries there are more male teenage prostitutes than female teenage prostitutes. No one seems to know this, no one seems to care and no one advocates using resources to help them as opposed to the female teenage prostitutes.

Feminist Critics blogger ballgame asked for citations and I looked into it (the following is an amalgam of this comment at FC and this at The Good Men Project):

NOVA, a research institute under the auspices of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research found in a report (which discusses several studies) in 2002 that 2.1% of school-aged boys (of a representative sample – basically all pupils between 14-17 years old in Oslo were asked to fill out a form – appr. 12.000 pupils) in Oslo had performed sexual favours for payment. The corresponding number for school-aged girls were 0.6%. The mean age for first time sex selling experience was 13.5 years for boys and 14.1 years for girls.

The report also says that this results corresponds with results from youth studies from another Norwegian city Trondhjem as well as from Iceland (the icelandic data seem to be unpublished, but made available to Hegna and Pedersen)

Here is a link to the report – it’s in Norwegian, but the last 2 pages contains an English summary:

This study from Sweden ( – sorry only in Swedish) found that from a sample of 2,323 girls and 2,016 boys (sample from the capital, a large port city and three smaller cities) that 1.0% of the girls and1.8% of the boys had sold sex. The difference between the genders are statistically significant(?) (Chi2 5,654, p=.017).
This study also referred to an American study done in Saint Louis which found that the lifetime prevalency numbers for prostitution were 4% for men and 2% for women. Cottler L, Helzer J, Tipp JE. Lifetime patterns of substance use among general population subjects engaging in high risk sexual behaviours: Implications for HIV risk. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 1990;16:207-22.

That study is unfortunately behind a paywall, but here is a link if anyone has access through their university or work:…..9009001584

Another study ( ) done in the city of Gothenburg in Sweden also found that more boys than girls said they had sold sex (exchanged sex for money or other things/favours). Here it was 11.4% of boys and 7.4% of girls. The high percentage is explained by this not being a “normalpopulation”, they used an online-survey form advertised by banner ads on two social sites and in that sense the sample was self-selected and would likely contain a higher ratio of youth having experience with sex, sexual abuse and sex sale. This one was interesting considering that 1/3 of the boys reported a female customer.

According to this:…..rticle=873 UNICEF estimates that MORE than half of the 30,000 child sex workers in Sri Lanka are boys.

Another American study analysing data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System found that Police report more contacts with male juvenile prostitutes (61%) than with female juvenile prostitutes (39%). It is also depressingly predictable that the police is more likely to arrest male juvenile prostitutes and more likely to refer female juvenile prostitutes to other authorities, such as social services agencies.

This report (…..tsheet.pdf ) cites this study: Edward, J.M., Iritani, B.J., & Hallfors, D.D. (2005). Prevalence and correlates of exchanging sex for  drugs  or  money  among  adolescents  in  the  United States.  Sexually  Transmitted Infections 82(5): 354‐358.  as finding that 67.9% of those who said they had participated in sex exchange were males (of a national representative sample of 12,294).

Curtis and Danks found in 2008 that 45% of underaged prostitutes in NYC were boys:…
I seem to remember that Toysoldier have posted something about that report when it came out.

A Minnesota statewide study of homeless youth in 2003 indicated that homeless boys are seven times more likely and homeless girls are three times more likely to have a history of sexual abuse than their housed peers:
Owens, Greg. Wilder Research Center. 2003. Homeless Youth In Minnesota: A statewide survey of people without permanent shelter. Wilder Research Center, St. Paul, Minnesota:

These type of findings is not something new – here are some more studies from the 1990s:
Feitel (1992) – New York – 150 shelter using youth age 13-22:
21 percent of the boys and 5 percent of the girls said that they had engaged in sex in exchange for ‘food, shelter, money, or drugs.

Rotheram‐Borus (1992) – New York – 206 homeless youth age 11-18:
13 percent of males exchanged sex for money or drugs and 7 percent of females exchanged sex for money or drugs.

Kipke (1995/97) – Los Angeles – 409 street youth age 12-23:
43 percent reported experience with survival sex (46 percent of young men and 32 percent of young women).

Wagner (2001) – Seattle – 289 homeless youth age 13-22:
47 percent of females and 37 percent of males were propositioned to sell sex.

I noticed (exactly as the ECPAT-PAPER notes) while searching for those reports that many of the qualitative studies on male prostitution paints young underage male prostitutes as having agency (they are exploring their homosexuality etc.) in a way I haven’t seen in research about young underage female prostitutes.

Summary: Elemental’s claim seem to be true for Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Sri Lanka and to some extent USA. S/he is certainly right about male teenage prostitutes not getting the proportional amount of attention as female teenage prostitutes.

I also wanted to add this question posed by Rachel Chapple, PhD on the TGMP thread:

I urge everyone to ask : what exactly happens to the boys when they are “rescued” “detained”.

My reply in a follow-up comment:

As for what happens when these kids are “rescued”/”detained” there seems to be a quite clear gender gap (from my comment higher up in the thread):

It is also depressingly predictable that the police is more likely to arrest male juvenile prostitutes and more likely to refer female juvenile prostitutes to other authorities, such as social services agencies

And unfortunately we also know what adults do to boys and girls when they are being held in juvenile facilities:

8.2% of males and 2.4% of females reported sexual activity with staff

Of the 1,390 youths who reported victimization by staff, 89.1% were males reporting sexual activity with female staff and 3.0% were males reporting sexual activity with both male and female staff. In comparison, males comprised 91% of adjudicated youth in the survey and female staff accounted for 44% of staff in the sampled facilities.

I later looked at the site which Rachel Chapple’s username at TGMP linked to – and there I found basically the same argument:

Boys sex-trafficked to-within-from the USA live underground. They fear being processed and detained and raped in male-survivor-unfriendly juvenile detention systems or in immigration detention centers where they have no appropriate or consistent medical care, programs that alleviate their trauma or legal counsel and representation (unless they can secure the services of a pro bono attorney)

7 thoughts on “And boys too…

  1. Do you know what the lifetime prevalence numbers for men and women are? These two made me curious:

    This study also referred to an American study done in Saint Louis which found that the lifetime prevalency numbers for prostitution were 4% for men and 2% for women.

    In this study there were still a lot more men and boys than women even though the study looked at ages up to 25 (and excluded under 16 which would probably have an even higher disproportion of boys to pull up the total)

    One finds a lot higher lifetime numbers for men and the other indicates a strong possibility.

    As far as I understand boys and young men dominate the lower age groups and women the older age groups. This is supposedly in large part explained by homosexual men being much, much more interested in paying for sex with boys younger than about 23 and straight men not showing as strong a youth preference. However, the lifetime numbers might still come out with more men.

    Another aspect is frequency. Often young mens prostitution is framed as being about fewer incidences of sale with fewer costumers and often mixed in with sexual curiosity and exploration. If such cases account for a large percentage of boys prostitution that lowers the impact it has. We know that many women are full time prostitutes that sell sex frequently, often several times a day. So gross numbers of one or more lifetime sales can not necessarily be compared as equally harmful. On the other hand just one incident or s string of a few incidents can be more than enough to damage someone deeply. The fact that the males dominate the younger cohorts makes them especially vulnerable and so more likely to be impacted. Older women are less likely to be harmed than young boys. Older women are also more likely to have thought through all the consequences and made an informed decision. An additional fact to consider is that while it MIGHT be the case that sexual curiosity plays a large role for many boys it does so for older women as well. A study I saw reported something like 40% of female prostitutes claiming sexual adventurism as a partial motive for selling sex. This could reduce harm as it is claimed to do for boys. It also indicates that sexual motives might play a part for young girls selling sex too.

    Any thoughts or relevant studies about any of this is highly welcome. I am working on an article about it

  2. Pingback: Sex Exchange More Common Among Boys | Tamen's writings
  3. Pingback: AND BOYS TOO… – International Gay Guide
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