Prostitutes as old as 70 continue to work in rural Australia, pushed out of the cities due to strong competition from younger and more attractive sex workers, the author of a study said on Tuesday.
Brothels are legal across most of Australia, but states have strict laws against soliciting and running brothels in residential areas, and near churches or schools.
The research, by John Scott of the University of New England, examined prostitution in rural areas of New South Wales state. He found the sex industry has flourished in rural towns, with many prostitutes making regular visits.
"I've likened some of them to traveling musicians, in that some of them might be based in metropolitan centers and they go out and travel — they tour the bush," Scott told Reuters.
He said a sex worker might pass through a country town every couple of months, but would advertise in advance and book up appointments. He said sex workers in rural areas tended to be older, and provide more companionship than city sex workers.
"In a business that is based on looks and age a lot of the time, it became increasingly hard for workers as they progressed in age," Scott said.
"If they had been in the business for 20 or 30 years, as a couple were, they found themselves increasingly working further away from the metropolitan centers."
Scott examined ads in rural newspapers and talked to sex workers for his study. He said the oldest sex worker he spoke to was 58 years old, but those interviewed reported working with older women in their 60s and one as old as 70.
Scott said rural clients tended to be more polite, and be interested in company as well as sex.
"A lot of the time these blokes just want a bit of a cuddle, or to talk," he said.