What is common between GB Road in Delhi, Kamathipura in Mumbai, Songagchi in Kolkata and LinkedIn? They are places where many escorts and sex workers provide services to those who seek. Yep, even on LinkedIn.
According to a TOI report, there are several Indian profiles on LinkedIn that offer a variety of services — ranging from escorts to adult entertainment and massages with happy endings. Such profiles span across cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. LinkedIn said such profiles violated its terms of agreement and that necessary action would be taken against them.
In 2013, after thousands of profiles were flagged for offering sexual services, LinkedIn banned the creation of “profiles or content that promotes escort services or prostitution”. Earlier, one could list ‘prostitution’ as their skill which is banned under LinkedIn’s new policies.
LinkedIn is an employment-oriented social networking platform which is the world’s largest professional network. It is mainly used by employers and employees offering and seeking job opportunities. It was bought by Microsoft in 2016.
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Sex work is moving online
While there are many dating apps like Tinder, Grindr and Feeld which are widely used for casual hookups, sex workers in India are gradually making use of these apps — as well as widely-used platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp — as they provide a sense of anonymity. According to Forbes, Twitter has emerged favourite for escorts and prostitutes to conduct sex work due to its more relaxed guidelines. With cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin gaining usage, they have become the default payment option for many who purchase sex online and over the dark web as transactions cannot be traced back.
Just earlier this month, Goa Police busted an online prostitution racket, arresting a duo who used to contact prospective customers online.
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The state of prostitution in India
There are around 2 million commercial sex workers presently working in India, however, the unofficial number is expected to be much higher. Though prostitution itself is not punishable under Indian laws, running a brothel, pimping and purchase of sex in public are punishable. Women are only allowed to do sex work in private. Also, male sex workers are not recognised in India. Recently, Andhra Pradesh became the first state in India to criminalise those who pay to have sex.
India has the below laws dealing with prostitution:
- Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) 1956 — criminalizes those who purchase sex
- Section 372 and 373 of Indian Penal Code — criminalizes the selling and purchase of minors for the purpose of prostitution
Source – The Times of India