Instant messaging services, social networks, dating applications: online prostitution has become a "booming industry" that has supplanted the street, according to a report on 35 countries unveiled Tuesday by a French organization against prostitution.
According to this study by the Scelles Foundation, entitled "Prostitutional system: new challenges, new answers", "prostitution and sexual exploitation on the Internet are emerging as a growing scourge". In France, it would represent up to "two-thirds of prostitution", according to the report of more than 500 pages.
"The digital facilitates concealment, anonymity and discretion"
The Internet has "eaten street prostitution" which only concerns a marginal fringe, says Yves Charpenel, magistrate and president of the Fondation Scelles. "The digital facilitates the concealment, anonymity and discretion that allow to develop illegal activities," said the organization.
"From the same computer, a criminal network can identify its future 'products' (prostitutes, ed), bring customers, then launder money traffic", summarizes Mr. Charpenel.
The magistrate denounces the "industrial and risk-free" level of online sexual exploitation, which allows pimps to avoid personal risks "by keeping" away from the traffic ".
The report, which mentions a note from the French Ministry of the Interior dated May 2018, points out that "for the first time in 2017, the percentage of identified victims exercising on public roads was lower than that of victims exercising in prostitution lodged. ".
Dating apps and messaging services are being used more and more
Criminal networks are now relying more and more on instant messaging services, such as Whatsapp, to "manage their business," says the study. Facebook and Tinder, the famous dating app, are also hijacked to recruit future prostitutes.
"Tinder is today the most used tool for finding prostitutes in Israel", illustrates the study, while in Thailand a network using Facebook was dismantled in September 2017 with the arrest of nine traffickers , including eight minors.
In France, the "procuring of cities", which mainly affects underage girls, family breakdown and sometimes made dependent on drugs, has also developed thanks to new applications. In July 2018, twelve men were convicted for prostituting twenty girls, most often identified on Instagram or Snapchat, in apartments rented on the Airbnb platform and transformed into "brothels ephemeral".