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Men will be men: Thousands fell prey to this startup’s fake prostitution campaign


Human trafficking is a major concern in India. Instead of subsiding, the illegal trade has been rising and thriving. While a large amount of human trafficking constitutes of children slavery, flesh trade is of the major reasons for it. Reportage around girls trafficking is common and can easily be found in national as well as regional dailies.

To take an account to grave situation of human trafficking, Delhi-based StayUncle has launched a fake campaign ‘Stay Laid’. The fake campaign lets men order sex workers across various genres and claims to be a pocket-friendly.

Unsurprisingly, the campaign has amassed 1,000 subscribers on the very first day, claims the company. Sanchit Sethi, founder of an Oyo kind of budget hotel booking platform StayUncle meant for unmarried couples highlights that the company gets about 3,000 phone calls every day asking for escort services.

StayUncle provides hotel room booking service for unmarried couples without any hassle. Till recently, booking a room for unmarried couples was almost impossible in India as hoteliers didn’t allow it.

“We wanted people to see how real the problem of trafficking is … how victims are affected. In our understanding, there was no better way than creating a fake website. It is only through technology that you can reach the masses,” said Sethi to Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The campaign with a dedicated website has listed over 10 girls with their physical attributes and regions from where they belong.

After getting a request, StayUncle sends an email explaining the menace of prostitution and how thousands of girls are forcefully being brought in flesh trade. According to the government of India data, human trafficking is rising with about 20 percent growth in 2016 as compared to the previous year.

While we can’t say whether such campaigns are ethically correct or not, it definitely triggers the debate on rising prostitution as well as the demand for the unlawful practice in the country.

When poster children like Zomato can go for witty and innuendo driven outdoor media campaign, such gesture from StayUncle should be appreciated as it amplifies the debate around human trafficking and flesh trade.

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