by Thane Burnett, Niagara Falls Review, April 13, 2009
Look down your street. And count. Now do the math.
If Victor Malarek's numbers are spot on, you may have to reevaluate your
neighbors. At least every ninth home.
And if the veteran investigative journalist's new book crosses your own
doorstep, you may have to do some soul searching, on how the personal
business of those people on your block -- or men around you -- may impact a
Malarek's new book, The Johns: Sex For Sale and the Men Who Buy It, released
Tuesday through Key Porter Books, is a follow-up to The Natashas, his last
angry and pointed expose on the world's most sordid trade. His new work
argues that too many average guys see sex-for-hire as "boys being boys."
But for the women involved, it's not often a career choice, but a
complicated form of economic or very real enslavement.
This time around, Malarek traces the steps of their clients, and a society
which dismisses it all as a victimless crime, and a trade as old as time.
But the dismal picture Malarek -- a senior reporter for CTV's current
affairs show W-Five-- draws is a strong argument for not letting the
commerce of basic instinct, and especially the men who fund it, off the hook
"It's not simply the oldest profession," says Malarek, over the phone from
his home in Toronto. "It's ... oppression."
Malarek estimates over 10 million women and children - including here in
Canada -- are enslaved in the $20 billion international sex trade industry.
And that while the economy is on the skids, the ranks of sellers and buyers
of skin are increasing at an alarming rate.
How do those numbers make their way to your street? Malarek believes one in
nine Canadian males frequent prostitutes.
And while we may tell ourselves most of the women are making a choice,
research, says the author, has found upwards of 96 per cent of the
prostitutes would rather be doing something else with their bodies and
In The Johns, Malarek traces the lives of the men who pay for sex -- from
the lonely to the crippled to the angry. And he concludes: "Without man,
there would be no demand. There would be no supply. It would not be
profitable for pimps and criminals to stay in this business if never-ending
platoons of men weren't prowling the side streets in search of purchased
While we all seem more concerned with terrorism and criminals in financial
towers, Malarek found, on the black market, prostitutes are the third most
profitable commodity, after illegal weapons and drugs.
"There's a lot of people with their heads buried in the sand," he explains.
"We don't like to think of these women as real human beings."
It's the prostitutes who most often get the police and courts attention,
while the Johns, the author fumes: "They get to zip up their pants and just
Consider, he says, the age of prostitutes gets younger and younger around
the world, while the lines of Johns get longer and longer.
Even the downturn in the economy doesn't help them ease up. While overseas
sex tourism has reportedly been impacted, Johns have realized tough times
mean they can ask for cut rates on degradation.
"This, for me, is one of the biggest human rights disasters on the planet,"
And, judging by his harsh numbers, it likely starts on your street.