Protect our young by cracking down on ‘compensated dating’
Euphemisms such as ‘part-time girlfriend’ are dulling the senses of the younger generations to the dangers of what is, in reality, nothing more than prostitution
Police efforts to stamp out the scourge of online sex services that pose as dating sites is a struggle, as continued arrests prove. Another 19 people were snared at the weekend, one a 16-year-old girl and three males from secondary schools and customers up to the age of 40.
Euphemistically known as “part-time girlfriend and boyfriend services” or “compensated dating”, they are in reality prostitution as sex is involved in return for cash or gifts. As challenging as the task is, though, authorities have to strengthen their efforts to protect Hong Kong’s younger generations from taking so damaging a path.
Young people driven by the lure of easy money have for a number of years been turning to the thriving industry’s internet forums and apps like WeChat and Instagram.
Society’s consumerism increases peer pressure for luxury products such as handbags, jewellery and watches among impressionable minds; the prospect, particularly for students, that a much-desired item can be had by a no-strings-attached, one-night fling is appealing to a certain demographic.
Our conservative society does not see it that way and there are a number of laws that can be used to deter, among them soliciting for an immoral purpose in a public place to living on the earnings of prostitution. The laws are also meant as protections against people putting themselves in dangerous situations that can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, assault, rape and worse.
“Part-time girlfriend and boyfriend” services also involve emotional matters, though. They can affect outlook on life, personal and family relationships and performance at school. The stigma of peers and colleagues aside, there can be a lifelong impact.
Understandably, police take the matter seriously, monitoring the internet and holding seminars for parents, teachers and students to warn of the dangers.
Prostitution is not illegal in Hong Kong, but “soliciting for immoral purposes” in a public place is. “Part-time girlfriend and boyfriend” services fall into that category when money changes hands and police have every right to take action. Given the dangers and risks, particularly to young people, efforts to crack down have to be maintained and strengthened.