Online prostitution rings flourish amid pandemic

Online prostitution rings flourish amid pandemic

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte

QUEZON City Mayor Joy Belmonte has called on authorities to conduct an investigation concerning the possibility of online prostitution rings using legitimate e-commerce websites as a means to ply their illegal trade.

Belmonte issued the call after it was brought to her attention that racy photos of women now invade the testimonial section of a product, particularly women’s dresses and undergarments.

The lady local chief executive said she found it strange for these women to post photos of them wearing underwear and other revealing dresses as testimonial for a product.

She enthused she smelled something fishy with the matter and this indicates the person behind have found another way by using legitimate websites to push their illegal activities.

To address this, the police have been instructed recently to activate their social media networking team to pro-actively monitor viral health protocol violations.

A known advocate of women’s rights since her days as vice mayor and presiding officer of the Quezon City Council, Belmonte has passed various ordinances for the protection and advancement of women’s rights in the city. Among them was the establishment of the QC Protection Center (QCPC), which acts as a one-stop-shop crisis center for victims of violence, harassment and abuse.

In addition, the QCPC was certified by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) as a Gender and Development (GAD) Local Learning Hub (LLH) in 2019.

With the sale of sex shifting online, today’s pimps are avoiding police detection by using underground websites, social media, mobile apps and even by hiding their ads on mainstream sites such as Craigslist and Backpage. In a first-of-its-kind study, criminologists in the United States interviewed several pimps to determine how their marketing decisions are influenced by police enforcement of online prostitution.

The findings suggest pimps are generally thriving by adapting to new technologies and utilizing deceptive online marketing tactics. The pimps reported an average annual income of about US$75,000, with more than one third of them making at least $100,000.

It has been found that pimps are exploiting the anonymity that new technology and websites allow. And for the police, targeted enforcement of the virtual world appears to have very limited potential to deter pimps from managing and advertising the services of sex workers.”

Technology has actually reshaped the contours of prostitution, with an estimated 80 percent of all sales of sex now occurring online. Law enforcement has focused most of its efforts on monitoring sites used frequently by the public, mainly Craigslist and Backpage.

But most pimps said they still advertise on those sites, albeit deceptively—hiding the solicitation under the auspices of a massage or date, for example. Specialty websites have also taken off, and online-savvy pimps use their own language, symbols and disingenuous photos to advertise their services and communicate with customers.

They even have mobile apps now so when you’re in a city and you want to know if there is a prostitute nearby, you type in your address and it will give you the locations.

In this case, the technology pimps are using to market the sale of sex is phenomenal. So what will the authorities do next to counter this problem?

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