An Africa Business Community
Online flesh trade booming
By Chidi Emmanuel and Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: While surfing the web and social media sites, one can easily view some advertisements popping up. This is not a regular advertisement, but that of prostitutes. They are neither advertising electronics nor material products on sale; they are rather showcasing pretty ladies who are making money with their bodies. Advancement in technology has trig- gered the game-changing discovery of how people use the Internet to conduct their business, be it legal or illegal.
Just like other businesses, sex work- ers in Kuwait advertise their businesses online. Special websites and apps are al- lowing information to flow between buy- ers and sellers, making it easier to strike mutually satisfactory deals. “How many girls do you want, and for how many days?” one online pimp asked a Kuwait Times reporter who disguised himself as a potential customer. As Kuwait’s se- curity operatives keep clamping down on prostitutes, gangs, and pimps, on the other hand, are cleverly devising ways to stay in the prostitution business.
Business is booming online, with the supply side (prostitutes themselves) wooing their customers in an unconven-
tional way. Unlike other countries, prosti- tutes don’t line up in the open streets and wait for potential customers. Prostitutes and punters have always looked for ways to find each other. In Kuwait, the deal is now done in a coded manner—through a pimp or online.
“Do you have available rooms for five people?” another online prostitute in- quired, adding that we can be paid only in cash or online. “Are you Kuwaiti or Amer- ican? Which nationality?, she asked re- peatedly. When asked why the questions were asked, she replied, “Kuwaitis and Westerners pay more. Although it is risky to deal with Kuwaitis (because some of them are police), they pay very well.” On another social media platform, the Ku- wait Times spotted a poster of a group of ladies with some price tags. “The pric-
es depend on the ages. The younger the lady, the higher the service charge,” one of the ladies said.
Law enforcers and other opponents of prostitution say that the practice endan- gers vulnerable ladies who could fall prey to pimps, thus breeding criminal activi- ties and drug use. “Most of these ladies (doing prostitution) are victims of visa trafficking. Some of them are run-away housemaids who have been badly abused by their sponsors. They are stuck in the middle of nowhere and could do anything to survive. Without legal documents, money, and proper guidelines, they end- ed up in the hands of pimps and went into prostitution,” Omar Ahmed, a legal prac- titioner, told the Kuwait Times.
There are weekly reports on the arrests of women, men, and pimps who provide
sex for sale, prompting even more discus- sion about the best way to combat the sex trade. “Arrest, jail, and deportations are not enough. The government needs to tackle the issues of visa trading, human traffick- ing, and human rights abuses. Also, prop- er counseling and awareness campaigns about the dangers of prostitution have be- come very necessary,” Ahmed added.
There are different types of online sex and harlotry. There is cyber sex, which is a virtual sex encounter via the internet or cell phone that doesn’t involve per- son-to-person contact. It’s also known as internet sex, computer sex, netsex, or cybering. Some prostitutes are now using social media apps and websites to lure their customers for cybersex. “With on- line apps, you can pay with online coins, super chats, and gifts. The lady can do
what you ask her to do within the agreed time,” Fahad A explained.
“Kuwait has been a leading destination for many expats to work, while at the same time making it a breeding ground for many criminals who take advantage of some gullible expats. Some of these sponsors bring these ladies and pimps to Kuwait in exchange for huge sums of money with- out providing them with jobs. It is sad to say that some of these victims of human trafficking become helpless with little or no options left,” Sultan Al-Shimali, a Ku- waiti lawyer, said. “Both prostitution and its direct link to human trafficking are con- sidered serious crimes under Kuwaiti laws. Anyone who finds themselves in such acts should seek official help or contact the au- thorities,” he advised.