Social media the new sanctuary for prostitution
Street prostitutes are becoming a thing of the past as they move to the Internet.
Most of them disguise their profession by calling themselves “sugar babies,” and they make use of private groups on social media to approach their target customers.
“Nobody solicits visibly on the streets anymore, as cops can show up,” said Hang Hang, who claims to be a go-between mainly active in Hue and Da Nang.
“We are more graceful than that, we have moved to Zalo. When you meet a customer, you can first take all the money you asked for. Only after having the money in your hands do you have to serve,” Hang told VnExpress.
He said prostitutes looking for customers (known as “sugar daddies”) can meet one 6-8 times a month for a rate of VND8-10 million.
“Maybe in the hotels, maybe overnight,” said Hang. “I will charge him VND10 million and give you VND 8 million after that, as I take VND 2 million as my agent fees. You can stop anytime, just tell me…and you can leave.”
According to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, prostitutes are increasingly popular on the Internet. The pimps, the “sugar babies,” and the “sugar daddies” often communicate in private groups on Zalo and other similar platforms.
Hoai Hoai, a self-proclaimed “trustworthy pimp” in Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong, said he can connect customers with a sugar baby or a sugar daddy within a day.
In exchange, he takes from 15% to 20% of the deals’ values.
“If he [a customer] pays you VND10 million, I take VND1.5 million (around $64). He pays you VND15 million ($639), I take VND2 million ($85), and for VND20 million (around $851), I take VND3 million ($128),” Hoai said. “If the amount he pays you is higher than that, I’m open to discussion about a special rate with you. Think about it this way, you need financial support from the daddy, while the daddy needs your beautiful face and obedience.”
These pimps refuse when someone wants to meet them in person. They will arrange for the sugar baby and the sugar daddy to meet up at a certain place, and the pimps can only be reached via phone apps.
Popular places for this type of service include villas, apartments, ships, and cruises. Sex services are often offered as accompaniment in the forms of travel tours and “sports tours,” including travel abroad. The value of the deal depends on the discussion between the baby and the daddy. Sugar babies often earn at least VND100 million a month ($4,257).
“You will never earn less than VND100 million a month,” said Hang Hang.
“Right upon meeting a daddy, you can take VND10 million. Tomorrow you can see another and take another VND10 million from him as well. You can even meet two to three daddies a day.”
These promises about attractive incomes are often what pimps use to encourage sugar babies. In exchange, sugar babies will have to guarantee that they satisfy the “basic needs of the daddy, often sex-related ones, once or twice a week,” he explained.
In order to protect themselves against authorities, after every successful transaction, pimps and prostitutes delete their chat history and social media profiles. Payments will be transacted via third party bank accounts before reaching the pimps’ accounts with disguised references.
Some sugar babies even attempt to find sponsors themselves, without the inclusion of pimps, according to authorities.
Xuan, a third-year student in Hanoi, said that with the help of social media, she had found sugar daddies who supported her for a year.
After one year, Xuan acquired many experiences.
“You have to post a lot, especially about your measurements and appearances. If you don’t find anyone suitable after 24 hours, then delete your post before re-posting [something new]. You have to post in two or three groups simultaneously as well. Just follow these rules and finding someone suitable is simply a matter of time for you.”
For the sake of keeping her information confidential, Xuan shared that she would never immediately send photos upon request. Instead, Xuan asks the man to meet at a cafe, where they discuss monthly meeting frequencies and payment.
Still, Xuan acknowledges that there are unavoidable risks, no matter how cautious the sugar baby is.
“For example, there was this one time I accompanied a guy to the hotel,” she said.
“He said he would transfer the money to me later, as his bank was under maintenance. Then while I was taking a shower, he ran away. If you think about that, I never know who the person I’m going with is, I never know if he has any diseases, and I never know what his background is,” Xuan said. “
If the police want to, they can investigate us who are active on social media as well. You can see that the Cybercrime Department of the Public Security Bureau has investigated many cases of models and beauty queens selling sex, right?”
Colonel Le Manh Ha, Deputy Head of the Advisory Department of Ho Chi Minh City Public Security Bureau, noted that online prostitution activities have recently developed rapidly in terms of communications sophistication.
Pimps and prostitutes have taken advantage of the convenience and the possibility of anonymity identity brought about by social media. Thus, authorities have had to adapt themselves to deal with new crimes.
Recently, the Ho Chi Minh City Public Security Bureau has brought down many online prostitution rings.
In 2022, authorities busted a ring mainly active on Zalo and Telegram that was run by a freshman undergraduate. Prior to that, in 2018, another large-scale prostitution ring active on Zalo was taken down by police as well.
“The proportion of risks here is 99%,” Xuan noted after one year of working as a “sugar baby.”
Despite that, Xuan decided to stick to the “career,” regardless of the risk of diseases, scams and arrest.
Her reason is quite simple:
“If I’m lucky, I can meet a good guy who gives me an amount of money equal to that of 10 other guys in total. Even if the relationship only lasts for one or two months, the total amount of allowance I get, which would be around VND20 million, is still considerable.”
By My Le – VnExpress.net – May 4, 2023