In recent years, with the coming of the internet, prostitution has gradually shifted from the streets to the net, as prostitutes no longer stand along streets or go to beer parlours and night clubs to look for customers. Termed as Prostitution 2.0, this change has encouraged more minors to join the business.
WHY MINORS ARE MORE INVOLVE IN PROSTITUTION 2.0
Financial difficulties. Most minors who practice this form of prostitution are students, especially those in foreign countries. These young girls (boys as well) who find themselves studying in foreign countries do not usually have the means to take care of their needs and also to pay for students loans they take for their tuition fees. Since it is difficult for students to get well-paid jobs, they turn to prostitution, which is considered as less demanding and more lucrative.
Most minors also get involved this type of prostitution because it enables them live their dream lifestyle. These girls get carried away by fashion trends and the need to “slay”, and they need money and sponsors to be able to live the life. Prostitution 2.0 is not like the regular form of prostitution where prostitutes had to stand on the road half naked, waiting for men to pick them up. Today all they need is a phone or a computer, internet and account. They are able to arrange their meets from their bedrooms. It is also possible for them to meet in more discreet. In this regard, their identities and protected. With the money they make from this business, they can finally buy themselves all the things they long for, such as human hair extensions, latest gadgets, clothes, shows and bags so as to look classy and fashionable.
Prostitution 2.0 is safer. Meeting customers online is considered safer than waiting on the street. Lining up the streets waiting for a man to show up is quite dangerous, as these young girls may end up being kidnaped, killed or end up in police cells. With prostitution 2.0 this risks are minimal though not totally absent.
In this light, young girls create accounts on the net; websites, social media, and whatever works for them. They create a profile (sometimes fake) where they describe the kind of services they offer. Clients who get interested in their profiles contact them and they strike a deal before they meet, that is location, price and services to be rendered. The chances of a client running away with their money are minimal because payment is done by electronic money before the meet.
Prostitution 2.0 is hard to track. This is one of the major driving forces behind online prostitution. Pimps using websites and social media groups cannot easily be tracked by legal authorities. This is makes it easier for them to recruit minors, (sometimes unable to work on their own) who are more solicited by older men who pay huge sums of money for their services. These young girls also feel less vulnerable as their identities are protected and the chances of them being arrested or jailed are limited.
With this form of prostitution, the number of fights and assaults among prostitutes has reduced. The older women who felt intimidated by the younger and prettier girls always tried to pick up fights, in a bit to mark their territory. With prostitution 2.0, there are no fights as each person owns an account and is contacted depending on the needs of the clients.
DANGERS OF PROSTITUTION 2.0
Though considered safe by many, prostitution 2.0 is still prostitution no matter its appellation and it remains a dangerous business despite the changes.
Prostitutes, especially minors are still vulnerable to many dangers in the hands of their clients. Some of the men they meet are ritualist (especially in the African context) who end up killing them for their rituals.
These young girls expose themselves to HIV and other STDs as there are no medical check-ups before passing to the act. Moreover, clients who do not approve of protected sex do not tell them during their chats online, and they end up rapping the girls when they try to insist on using protection.
Some this minors fall prey to physical and sexual abuse in the hands of their pimps. Those minors who are inexperience and cannot host a website or social media group on their own end up working for agencies that provide them accommodation and protection. The pimps usually take advantage of their desperation to abuse them because most of these girls have no other place to go to. This is very common with migrants.
Unfortunately for many, prostitution 2.0 is a phenomenon that will be hard to deal with. Looking at the fact that legal authorities have been unable to regulate or eradicate regular prostitution, it will be quite impossible for them to do anything to stop prostitution 2.0 because there are no means to track these agencies so far.
AFRIC Editorial Article.