Vice Squad
Friday, November 02, 2007
Regulating Ads for Sexual Services

This week's Economist has an interesting article on classified advertising in British newspapers for escort services or adult massages or other (presumably) sex-related businesses. There is a concern that some of the ads involve trafficked or underaged women, as opposed to voluntary adult workers. (Adult prostitution per se is legal in Britain, though street walking and the related activity of buyers, "kerb crawling" in cars, is illegal.) "Last month the South Wales Echo ran a story about trafficked women working in Cardiff, only to discover that all of the brothels named in the article had advertisements in the same issue." (Brothels, too, are illegal, as are the activities of pimps or organizers of escort services that provide sex.)

But the British understand harm reduction, so they have not rushed to ban the ads. Following the prostitute murders about one year ago in Ipswich, a local newspaper company consulted with the police, and they agreed to continue to run the ads, to try to keep as much of the trade above-ground as possible. The newspaper requires that such ads be paid for with a check or credit card, so that the advertiser can be located in the event that irregularities appear.

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