Wednesday 18 October 2017

Calls to ban 'value for money' reviews from escort websites

The website hosts hundreds of reviews and awards a monthly prize based on the best reviews
The website hosts hundreds of reviews and awards a monthly prize based on the best reviews
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A petition to ban reviews from an escort site has reached more than 7,000 signatures.

The petition calls on the Department of Justice to restrict the review section from Escort Ireland and similar websites which allows clients to give feedback on women who advertise their services on the site.

Reviewers may rate a number of aspects of their experience including physical experience and value for money. They may also indicate if they would recommend the escort under review or if they would repeat their booking.

The petition, hosted on change.org, included excerpts from reviews which included derogatory statements such as "[if] you are really stuck some night".

The website hosts hundreds of reviews and awards 'escort of the month' based on positive feedback.

Women advertising on the site do have the option to opt out of reviews or to stop reviews with explicit detail. They may also choose to respond, which some do and may also choose not to have their rates advertised.

"The men who leave reviews are not interested in whether the woman is enthusiastic or not. It is illegal in the entire island of Ireland to purchase sex, so this platform which enables and encourages and promotes illegal behavior should be abolished," the author of the petition writes.

The letter being sent to Minister Charlie Flanagan reads:

"Please stop Escort Ireland's platform for punters to rate and review sex with women they rent.

"As you can see from my petition, women are being rated and reviewed by men who rent them for sex. This is not equality or liberation for women, something Ireland is striving for."

However, a spokeswoman from Ugly Mugs, an app which allows sex workers to share information about clients in order to promote safety, said that reviews and sex work websites had value for allowing women to work safely.

"I think from a technology point of view there is no point banning websites... because you can't feasibly do it, people will find a work around.

"I don't agree with trying to ban sex work websites because you can't ban sex work by banning websites, it doesn't work and it's not a useful thing to do.

"Sex workers rely on websites as one means of meeting clients in a safer environment. Things like review systems allow sex workers to have some knowledge of a client, when they are taking a booking from a client they can look at that clients reviews and it's a way of gaining information about that person so they are useful to sex workers for safety purposes generally," she added.

Overly abusive comments are usually not published on websites used by Irish escorts she said but have been noted as an issue in the UK where there are unmoderated forums and user led websites where abusive language seems to be a greater issue.

"It's an optional thing, sex workers can opt out of reviews," she added.

Independent.ie has contacted the Department of Justice.

In a statement Escort Ireland, which operates out of Spain, said:

"Each escort on the website has taken a personal decision on whether they wish to receive reviews.

"We have a dedicated community team that monitors the Escort-Ireland.com community forums and reviews sections 24/7 and takes action if anything inappropriate is posted as per our very strict guidelines on review and user generated content."

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