CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, July 1, 2013

"The New Prostitutes"

From the New York Times:

While no one has yet measured exactly how significantly the Internet has increased the number of working escorts, it’s already clear that many Internet sex workers would never seriously consider working on the street. Scott Cunningham, an economist at Baylor University, conducted a survey of 700 sex workers in the United States and Canada. “The Internet is augmenting the sex market by bringing in women who would not have entered the sex market without the Internet,” he says. In one month chosen at random by Mr. Cunningham — May 2009 — an average of 1,690 sex-worker ads were posted online every day in the New York City area alone.

. . . .

Escorts face danger not because of the Internet but because they’re still forced to work underground. In a different world, technology could be harnessed to reduce the dangers of prostitution. The University of Colorado law professor Scott Peppet has floated the possibility of a “technology-enabled sex market” where escorts and clients are all pre-vetted and predators are screened out. “The law, however, is hostile to such innovation,” Professor Peppet writes. “It currently criminalizes not just prostitution itself, but activities — including technologies — that advance or facilitate sex markets.” As it stands, escorts online remain invisible, where they are vulnerable to predators.

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