European backlash over 'sugar daddy' campus adverts

Paris and Brussels are now taking legal action against sites critics accuse of 'pimping'

October 31, 2017
Young woman with little money
Source: iStock

Politicians in Paris have called for an investigation into campus adverts for student "sugar daddies", after officials in Brussels had them banned last month.

Hénène Bidard, the French capital's deputy mayor in charge of fighting discrimination, said that the adverts constituted "violence against women" and a "threat to public order", and required an investigation "possibly leading to charges of pimping", reported France 24.

"Sugar daddy" websites, which promise to connect hard-up students with wealthy older patrons, have for years been a start-of-term media fixture, but now some European cities are taking legal action against them.

Last week, an advertising trailer arrived at Paris universities suggesting students "Go out with a Sugar Daddy or a Sugar Mama" for "romance, passion and no student loans".

As well as condemnation from the mayor's office, the internet watchdog Pharos said the website should be shut down, a call echoed by Green Party councillors, who said the service exploited the "financial insecurity of a growing number of students", France 24 reported.

France's National Federation of Students' Associations lodged a criminal complaint, arguing that the campaign "is aimed at attracting vulnerable students...and encouraging them to perform sex acts with older people".

In September, Brussels banned adverts being towed around campuses that said: "Hey women students! Improve your lifestyle. Go out with a 'sugar daddy'," Reuters reported.

Rudi Vervoort, the head of the Brussels regional government, said that the service was "pimping 2.0".

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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