An advertising campaign for a dating website putting young women in touch with rich older men has been banned in Brussels.
A mobile billboard parked outside Belgian universities telling female students they could fund their studies by dating a “sugar daddy” has been condemned as encouraging prostitution by politicians.
Minister Rudi Voort who is President of the government of the Brussels-capital region was one of them:
“I’m not here to lecture anyone, as long as it is between consenting adults, I have no judgement to make. On the other hand we are facing here a mechanism, in a way, a modern form of pimping.”
The site is based in Norway but operates in several countries. Its founder Sigurd Vedal denies it is promoting prostitution and argues that money is part of every relationship.
“We found out that mentorship and something more than just appearance and meaning mental stimulation, support to start their own career, wanting to learn, ambition. Those were important drivers for what they found attractive in a man.”
The banning of the mobile publicity was as a result of complaints by students and the university authorities.
“It’s a kind of disguised prostitution because they say that girls are interested, that it’s girls who want attention and guys want company. But in the end, the girls are getting paid for it, said one UBL student.
“There are a lot of female students, I imagine, who are really struggling. So it’s really not a good solution, especially not encouraging them in this way,” said another Brussels university student.
The website is not discouraged and says it still hopes to sign up 300,000 Belgian members by the end of the year.