People looking for prostitutes communicate on web in code (Lead)October 23rd, 2009 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS
London, Oct 23 (IANS) People looking out for prostitutes share precise information on the net about them, couched in ‘argot’ a coded language, to share warnings of prostitution hot zones and stings, which can hamper the efforts of law enforcement officials, says a new study.
These ‘johns’ provide detailed information on the location of sexual services on the streets and indoors, as well as ways to identify specific providers, information on costs and personal experiences with providers.
This ‘argot’ may help ‘johns’ and sex workers avoid legal sanctions and any social stigma associated with participating in the sex trade, the researchers said.
The study, co-authored by Michigan State University’s (MSU) Thomas Holt and Kristie Blevins of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, challenges the common perception that sex customers act alone and do not interact for fear of reprisal or scorn.
The study also said that ‘johns’ place significant value on the notion that paid sexual encounters are normal and non-deviant. “These internet communities help these individuals justify their behaviour,” Holt said.
The study also found that the ‘johns’, in their internet exchanges, generally perceive prostitutes as commodities rather than people.
Holt, assistant professor of criminal justice, said today’s Web-savvy ‘johns’ use the internet to solicit prostitutes and to share warnings of prostitution hot zones and stings, which can hamper the efforts of law enforcement officials.
But the more police become familiar with the johns’ Web activities, the more it can help them zero in on the perpetrators, Holt said.
The study analysed prostitution Web forums in 10 US cities with the highest rates of prostitution arrests.
The study appeared in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.
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