Understanding the male sex industry

The male sex industry has become an increasingly visible part of society, assisted by factors such as globalisation and technology. With few resources and little support readily available for male sex workers, this population may be at higher risk for health problems. A review article published today in BMC Public Health discusses how challenges emerging from the changing structure of male sex work should be confronted.


At the beginning of last year, the BBC ran an eye-opening documentary on the male sex industry in London, featuring men from various countries such as Brazil, France and Australia who had made their way to the city to reap the benefits from the high demand of their services.

Although sex work is primarily associated with women, male escorts constitute a considerable proportion of the sex work industry, with globalization and advances in technology giving male escorts increased visibility. Male sex work is not a new phenomenon, as has been explored in Male Sex Work and Society, a collection of essays and studies released last year examining the role of male sex work from an interdisciplinary perspective. Victor Minichiello, the editor of Male Sex Work and Society and a Section Editor of BMC Public Health discusses a range of issues emerging in the male sex industry with John Scott and Denton Callander in a recent review published in the journal.

In their article, Professor Minichiello and colleagues argue that there is a need for a major rethink of how male sex work is regulated to ensure appropriate public health services and outcomes for sex workers and their clients. Research should move beyond identifying male sex workers and their clients and seek instead to better understand the human dimensions that underpin such relationships. By using this approach, it is hoped that more effective public health policies and interventions will be developed.

It is important that governments recognize and take into account this large and growing group of sex workers, so that the appropriate regulation and support can ultimately be provided.


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Researching male sex work offers insight into the sexual lives of men and women while developing a more realistic appreciation for the changing issues associated with male sex work. This type of research is important because it not only reflects a growing and diversifying consumer demand for male sex work, but also because it enables the construction of knowledge that is up-to-date with changing ideas around sex and sexualities.

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