A recent CNN article brought to light a growing trend of “compensated dating” in Hong Kong’s teenage girl population. In “compensated dating,” a young woman agrees to go out on a date with a man for a price, but more often the “date” ends up being sex.
Though the girls themselves deny it, this type of short-term relationship is really only a variation of teenage prostitution, with the distinction that the girls are handing out sexual favors to earn extra shopping money rather than out of desperation.
In an interview with CNN, a 19-year-old former “compensated dater” talks about how she began going on “compensated dates” after seeing the designer clothing and accessories her classmates had bought with money earned on “dates.” Before her so-called “dates,” she established the price she charged and the number of times she would have sex with the man. “I thought this was easy money, and that’s why I continued doing this kind of thing,” she said.
The reasons why girls in Hong Kong commit themselves to this form of work are many and varied. Some girls come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, and others, as the article mentions, just want to replace a new cell phone. However, nearly all of the girls believe that “compensated dating” gives them the power to say no if they do not like the customer, and because they feel that they can stop anytime they want to, they do not think of themselves as prostitutes.
The situation in Hong Kong parallels a growing trend in the US. The year 2003 saw a 70 percent rise in the number of teen prostitutes who come from middle to upper-middle class families and have never suffered abuse or mistreatment.
As in Hong Kong, many of these American girls are selling themselves for thrills and easy money, and the FBI confirmed that year that the average age of a new teen prostitute is 13 years old. Many of these girls are being picked up at the mall, and the phenomenon is more common in major US cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Las Vegas and New York. Men purposely pick out girls who are awkward or lonely.
Selling sex, no matter what euphemism it’s categorized under, is still a form of prostitution, and girls are putting up their dignity as well as their bodies up for auction. It’s a sad day when girls are willing to throw themselves away for a Coach bag, Gucci glasses, or as we’ve just read about, a new cell phone.