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Negative impacts of Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Commercial sexual exploitation commodifies women and girls and supports a culture that views women as objects who are more a ‘sum of body parts’ than a whole being, and eroticises men’s violence and their perceived ‘right to buy’ whatever acts they have sexualised.

Whilst sexual exploitation mainly involves the abuse of women and girls, men and boys are also affected. Firstly some men and boys are directly abused and exploited through prostitution and pornography, overwhelmingly for use by men. Secondly men are financially exploited by the sex industry - they are paying to access something that should be free, equal and respectful. Whilst the vast majority of men who buy sex are in a position to choose – unlike the women and children who are prostituted – nevertheless we are concerned at the normalisation of the sex industry and the pressure on men, especially young men, to be consumers within the sex industry.

Links with sexual violence

It is our view that commercial sexual exploitation is inextricably linked with both the prevalence and the acceptability of sexual violence within our society. Any work towards gender equality and the elimination of male violence against women is undermined so long as the abuse of women and children through commercial sexual exploitation goes unchallenged. The objective of work around sexual violence must be the eradication of rape and this will not be achieved until we tackle the root causes of this violence – namely structural inequality, negative attitudes to women and society’s tolerance and acceptance of these attitudes.

Parents, carers and those working with young people are increasingly concerned about the bombardment of sexualised and violent imagery that young people face every day, and its effects on their wellbeing.

Pornography in mainstream culture

`Pleasure vs. Profit` is one of the first resources to make the connections between sexualisation and the creep of pornographic images and values into mainstream culture, and to focus on the situation in Scotland. Accompanying the film is a comprehensive information pack, developed by the Women`s Support Project with support from Zero Tolerance, which provides more information and ideas on how to challenge `porn culture`. The Pleasure Vs Profit pack is accessible here (PDF, 7.5 MB).

With input from young people, police and activists, the film exposes how the porn industry manipulates young people`s natural curiosity about sex, and in doing so jeopardises their ability to explore their sexuality in a healthy way and at their own pace.

Useful contacts

Tap here to find links and contact information for a range of agencies.