HYDERABAD: The days when patrons would covertly go to a “red light” area to gratify their sexual needs are long gone. Actresses, models, and others are now easily accessible online thanks to current technology, and police are having trouble putting a halt to high-tech prostitution ring operations. The Special Operations Team (SOT) of the Cyberabad police learned that the owners of the brothel were recruiting customers through a ‘escort services’ website following a recent search at a brothel in APHB Colony, Gachibowli. In reality, police had previously uncovered a similar “hi-tech” brothel at Fortune Towers in Madhapur where a TV star was being taken advantage of and the operators were attracting clients online. There are several of these websites that provide escort services in Hyderabad, and some of them even provide employment to men who are interested in working as escorts. One “Alisha” answered the phone when TOI called a contact number listed on the Hyderabad Erotic Escort website. She stated in understandable English that “wherever and whenever a customer wants, a female escort will be provided within an hour’s notice.” According to Alisha, a client would be required to pay Rs 18,000 for two hours, Rs 35,000 for four hours, and Rs 45,000 for the entire night. She continued, “The amount should only be paid in cash to the escort.” Escorts Hyderabad, a different website, advertised about offering the “services” of TV anchors and serial actresses. Subbu, the contact person, sounded extremely confident when he said he could deliver television celebrities, but he would not disclose the names or any identifying information about them. For Rs 25,000, Subbu gave a package for the entire night. The chance of being arrested has decreased for the pimps since they are able to reach customers directly through websites and online marketing. In fact, during the two most recent raids, authorities were only able to apprehend customers and save sex workers but failed to capture the organizers. Police said that the online prostitution industry is booming in metro areas and that the majority of its clients were wealthy businessmen and young professionals. It has been challenging for the police to initiate a crackdown on the network because the “escorts” immediately approach a customer and pimps routinely rent and swap apartments in upscale neighborhoods. They are currently attempting to monitor these websites, but the outcomes are unsatisfactory. According to Cyberabad additional deputy commissioner of police (Crimes) G Janaki Sharmila, “We have written to internet service providers to shut down several escort service websites. We have even tracked the IP address of a particular site to Warangal and wrote to the police officials concerned to carry out a raid at the address. But for every site we shut down, two new ones are popping up on the internet, and it has become really difficult.”
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