sex & relationships

Paying for sex: it’s common practice in ‘The City’ claims one former employee

“I can’t be named because it means I’m pointing the finger at some high up individuals,” *Lisa*, a former global risks underwriter tells me when I ask her about the attitude towards paying for sex in The City.  

“Many of my now ex-colleagues paid for sex and did so because it’s part of the ‘lad culture’ up there: there is a ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ mentality.’

Lisa’s revelations come after a survey revealed that one in ten men admit to paying for sex, with further results finding that single men aged between 24-35 who have a managerial or professional role are more likely to pay for partners. 

But Lisa, who worked in the city for eight years, claims that many partaking in such activities are in a relationship and that their sexual exploits are unofficially funded by their companies.

“It’s a bit sad really, paying for sex and cheating on their partners and it does get expensed and yes, they do pay for their clients.”

“It would generally go through as a food and drink or travel receipt.  Quite often cabbies or friendly bar staff would give out blank receipts whereby the bill total is left blank,” Lisa tells me. 

“Over the course of a month, if you collect enough of them, it’s fairly easy to bolster up a few fake receipts to cover these bills.  Some strip clubs also offer ‘extras’ but you run a tab and at the end of the night, all the bill shows is ‘food and drink’.”

“Everyone knows what’s really happening, the receipt is assigned to the client and accounts don’t really care so long as they have a valid receipt for tax purposes.” 

The survey carried out by the University of City London (UCL) asked 6,108 men if they had ever paid for sex with 11% admitting they had and 62.6% of those said they had paid for sex outside of the UK. 

Out of the men who admitted to paying for sex, 3.6% said they had done in the last five years with those who reported binge drinking once a week or more or who had taken hard drugs in the last year were also more likely to pay for sex. 

“The picture that emerges does not necessarily fit the stereotype of the lonely older man,” says Dr Cath Mercer (UCL Infection and Population Health). “In fact, men who pay for sex are more likely to be young professionals with many unpaid sexual partners. Many report other hedonistic and risky behaviours including heavy drinking and drug taking.”

Lisa however says that from what she saw, many men simply paid for sex to fit into the culture of the city. 

“Drink and to a lesser extent drugs were part of the mix, but I think it was more about the lad culture up there, being one of the boys.”

“The men were drunk and making themselves look like sad old bastards desperately after a pretty young girl who they’d never be able to attract unless they were paying for her.”

“I wouldn’t say any of them paid for sex because they needed to.  Most of them were in relationships, be it long or a string of short term ones, and they were all fairly intelligent, charming, amusing men who had no trouble finding women.”

“Funnily enough the guys actually seemed to have a strange respect for the prostitutes.  The women, particularly in strip clubs treated them with a real distain apparently, because they knew the men wanted their product as it were.”

“The women were taking their money and laughing at them for falling for their act.”

“They did it to fit in, to build relationships with clients and co-workers, because they could and they saw it as fun, part of a night out and a perk of their job.”

The survey further reports that those who admitted to paying for sex in the last five years were more than twice as likely to contract a sexual transmitted infection (STI), with men who pay for sex making up 15.6% of all STI cases in the last five years. 

“Men who pay for sex are evidently at high risk of infection, but this does not necessarily mean that the STIs are spread through their paid sex,” explains Dr Mercer. “Instead, we found that these men report engaging in other risky sexual behaviours, such as having concurrent – or overlapping – partners, and so should be considered a core-group for sexual health interventions and services.”

The results are part of the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) which was carried out between 2010-2012, by researched from UCL, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and NatCen Social Research.

Find the report here

*We have changed Lisa’s real name to protect her identity.