The most common way to buy sex today is through the internet. Most people have access to a computer, which means that anyone can buy sex at anytime. Everywhere in the world sex purchases are carried out and the contact is established on the internet.
But how is the sex purchase really carried out on the internet, how easy is it and what does the ads contain?
With the help of a few simple keywords you will get hundreds of hits on active escort sites where women and men are selling sex, women represents the majority. Just the search “escort” gives 1.62 million hits on Google search engine. We also know from experience that every day between 200- 300 new ads are being placed. In addition to escort sites, there are also several forums and blogs relating to the topic, being displayed. Here the procedures and precautions for the purchase of sex are discussed and tips provided.
Typically, the sex buyer contacts the sex seller through an escort site. The contact is established via the mail addresses or phone numbers listed in the ads.
What does the escort ads contain?
Prostitution Unit of District Administration in Malmö has conducted observations of escort ads on the Internet in the study “When prostitution moved into the living room” (2007). Part of the result was the discovery that escort ads often show a similar structure. Through the study’s result along with its own observations, it is possible to pick up the following categories which are usually presented in the ads. Target group, age, location, pricing, protection, description and rules.
The categories will be explained more thoroughly below.
It is common for the sex seller to describe what target group he or she turns to. The study shows that the majority of sex sellers state men as their target. A large part doesn’t specify any target group and a few states that they also see couples and women. Some also state that they do not see sex buyers under 25 years of age. (Olsson, 2007) The discussion forum explained that they do not meet young sex buyers because they are often unreliable about turning up on time.
It has been mentioned earlier that the average age of a sex buyer is 30 years. Also the age of sex workers is relatively low. 75% of sex workers are between 21- 30 years of age, but with the majority under 25 (Olsson, 2007). This is confirmed by other sources, showing that many young people are tricked and forced into prostitution.
The location where the sex purchase takes place is usually at hotels, at the sex worker’s home, at arranged premises or at the home of the customer. Less common, but also occurring at a brothel or in the customer’s car (Olsson, 2007). It is most common for the sex purchase to take place at hotels, one in four sex purchases takes place here (Sehlin, 2014-07-29).
The price for the purchase of sex varies with escort ads, but usually pricing for an hour begins at 1500, 2000 sek and can cost up to 3000 sek. (Olsson, 2007) Five sex buys per day generates approximately 10 000 sek. Numbers like these show why human trafficking and sex trafficking is an immense profit criminality.
There are often rules in the ads about the sexual activities and for protection. A majority of sex sellers mention a condom demand in their ads. (Olsson, 2007) The ads are usually decorated with both pictures and descriptions of appearance and personality.
In addition to the sex trade’s enormous extent, it is also a very elaborate operation containing rules.
Anonymity and ease of access creates a demand and facilitates trafficking.
With the purchase of sex moving to the internet, it opens up for cross-border sex purchasing. It becomes possible for a person in Sweden to make an appointment to meet someone, for example in Thailand to buy sex at a later time. Or for a person to reserve a sex purchase before a business trip.
The ads manufacture women as entrepreneurs, but it is impossible to know who the person behind the ad actually is. It might as well be a pimp or human traffickers who force another human being to meet up with the sex buyer. Internet’s anonymity and mobility facilitate the trafficking network and probably hamper police operations.
In the sex industry the word sex worker is often used, which refers to regard prostitution as a profession. This creates a normalization of sex purchase in society, which affects attitudes.
The Internet provides an opportunity for passive behavior. It does not require as much for meeting up on the internet, as it does to actively run away to a street to pick up a prostitute. The sex buyer need not risk being seen. The sex trade on the internet are also more accessible because it is advertised on escort ads, both on porn sites and sites where you can download movies and music.
The reason for sex buyers drop in age, may be because young people today are using the internet to a greater extent than older and thus have greater access to the anonymous, accessible and passive trade. The sex trade’s new simplicity therefore creates a demand.
But what is actually done by the police to stop the growing sex trade on the internet? Interviews with police officers in major cities will provide the answer to this question in Part 3.