Overwhelming student loans and escalating medical bills have sent a 21-year-old Calgary student to the underground Internet sex trade to make ends meet.
She is not alone. With simple S-E-X keystrokes, men can access hundreds of Calgary women selling various sexual indulgences through Craigslist’s “erotic services” category, but “Eve” insists she doesn’t sell intercourse.
“I provide pictures and videos at their request in exchange for money. What I’m doing is no different than being in a Playboy, just with fewer viewers,” she insists.
But perhaps more alarming is why she is doing it.
Eve said she was diagnosed with cancer last year and began taking unapproved medication, leaving her $50,000 in debt.
“In reality, I need more than that to break even. That’s my reason for doing this,” she said, adding she also works full time for $13 an hour and attends school full time.
Another woman, “Jane,” 19, posts online “sugar daddy” Craigslist ads to overcome her $40,000 debt, and admits to meeting the usually married men in person.
“I was trying to find an easier solution to pay off my school debt. It is very overwhelming having that massive number constantly looming over my head,” she said. “I do have concerns about my safety. I am meeting the guys in public places at first, then when I feel more comfortable I would go somewhere private with them.”
For now, both women continue to tread the dangerous water of the online sex trade, but sex trade expert Susan McIntyre says the Internet only provides a “false sense of security.”
“In brothels or on the street, there are other people. But with Craigslist, there is really just the girl and the guy she is meeting. There is really no way of knowing who someone is,” she said.
McIntyre said young girls are turning to technology because it’s easier than walking the streets. “What they don’t realize is that there are long-lasting effects.”
Craigslist has come under recent scrutiny due to the “Craigslist killer” case, in which a man is accused of murdering a New York masseuse and attacking two other escorts who advertised on the site.
Editor’s note: Women’s names in quotes have been changed.
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