The Johns
Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It
Victor Malarek

April 16 2009
Hardcover/320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55970-890-6
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"…for anyone laboring under the misconception that prostitution is a “victimless crime.”

Canadian investigative reporter Victor Malarek’s second book, The Johns, is a disturbing revelation that dispels common perceptions of prostitutes. Malarek says he was programmed to believe women “chose to be in the so-called profession.” After hearing personal accounts and doing extensive research, he is convinced “prostitution is the world’s oldest oppression.”

The stark reality is that women are “shackled by drug addiction, poverty, hunger and despair into a profession they despise.” Malarek cites the 2008 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report. It estimats 800,000 “human beings are trafficked worldwide every year as slaves,” mostly women for the sex trade.

This “sexual terrorism” is allowed to continue because it is profitable for human traffickers. Even more vexing, “sex tourism” provides much-needed revenue to poorer countries. In contrast Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen is closing down some brothels and rethinking the policy of legalization of prostitution. It is a “fiasco,” he says. Women are still being exploited while the sex industry is dominated by organized crime.

Sweden implemented sweeping laws that decriminalized the sale of sex while buying sex has become a crime. The Swedish government “flatly rejected the notion that prostitution is a choice,” Malarek writes. Meanwhile, impoverished countries where women lack income such as Costa Rica, Philippines, Indonesia, Ghana, Thailand and Brazil are becoming sex meccas.

Gleaning evidence from police records, interviews and from web sites, Malarek concludes the only common factor for johns is that they pay for sex. These “mongers” range from ministers and policemen to boys in a rite of passage, women-haters and thrill seekers. Most troubling are the pedophiles and hypocrites, persons supposedly committed to the protection of human rights, such as former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. He championed laws against human trafficking yet was caught paying for a high-priced prostitute. After a raid in Macedonia, it was also learned women were held captive for the pleasure of the UN peacekeepers.

Malarek says books on prostitution can fill a room while books on the men who pay for sex wouldn’t cover a book shelf. Men are faceless. It is their quiet hobby until they are arrested or get HIV/AIDS. With the internet, johns even have support sites where they solicit sex, promote places for sex tourism and learn how to avoid sting operations.

Like Malarek’s previous book, The Natashas, about current global trafficking routes for women and children, this book reads like a news story with well-attributed facts. It is definitely for policymakers involved in the debate over legalization of prostitution or for anyone laboring under the misconception that prostitution is a “victimless crime.”
Reviewer: Kate Padilla