'Prostitute Tripadvisor': Campaign to close down website in which punters rate and review Ilford, Goodmayes and South Woodford sex workers
PUBLISHED: 17:07 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:11 03 October 2018
With comments such as "house is on a quiet street of Cranbrook Road" and "interior is nicely done" I could almost be reading the review section of Airbnb.
Sam - not his real name- has been using the services of prostitutes since his nine-year relationship broke down.
The office worker, who lives in Redbridge, said at first the liaisons were a comfort or “intimacy replacement” but it soon became an addiction.
“I was broken, the person I thought I was going to marry left me,” he said.
“I was so lost and didn’t leave my flat for six months, apart from going to work.
“One day I just decided to do it and it was such a release with no emotional baggage - it was an escape from hurting and it made me feel good.”
Sam started making regular bookings and before he knew it had spent thousands of pounds on liasons and on call lines.
“It’s a good thing that sexual addiction has been classified as a mental health problem,” he added.
“People think it is seedy and it’s just that you have a high libido or hate women and they don’t realise it can be a symptom of something else.
“I realise this now and I am working towards meeting someone new and building a healthy relationship.
But as my cursor scrolls down the page, it becomes abundantly clear with every click, that the subject of the feedback is of a somewhat more insalubrious nature.
Women’s figures, sexual techniques and even dispositions are rated and reviewed on Punternet UK – an escort review website.
Sex workers from all corners of the borough, including Ilford, South Woodford and Goodmayes are analysed and compared in detailed accounts.
Ricocheting between obscenely graphic descriptions of sexual acts and almost superfluous, clinical overviews, the women are seen as disposal playthings – there to perform and meet the most nichest of requests.
One review, that I had to make myself read, complained that one particular woman didn’t want to perform and tried to pull away.
In language that can’t be repeated in a family paper, unconcerned for her welfare the client made sure to finish the job to get what he had paid for.
It is accounts like this that inspired Trishna Datta, 27, of Newbury Park, to launch a petition to have the website taken down.
She performed outreach work in Ilford Lane and witnessed first hand the violence and harassment some of the women received.
She said she respects the right for women to work how they want, but Punternet is not set up by the sex workers and lacks significant safety measures.
“It is unlike other sexual service providers because prostitutes are not advertising their services,” she said.
“Punters are advertising them and the telephone number and locations of girls – putting them in direct danger.”
Trishna said that punters use aliases and in many posts the things they describe could be “equivalent to sexual assault” in any other setting.
“Punternet acts as a safe cyberspace for punters to share alarming experiences,” she added.
“The men that use the website openly act out behaviours and share attitudes towards women which would probably lead to criminal charges if carried out in a different context.”
One sex worker, who wants to remain anonomous, said she finds the website really demeaning and degrading.
“The girls that get the best reviews are the girls who will do absolutely anything for money,” she said.
“If you refuse to do stuff, they’ll go on and slate you and you get a bad review – your working career is done.”
However, another sex worker, based in Ilford, said she likes the website and it generates lots of bookings.
“This is my job, it is a business and like any other service you need promotion,” she explained.
“I get free publicity and have got some regular clients through it.”
A spokesman from Punternet said the website does not treat women like commodities and objects, however the service the ladies provide is a commodity.
He added that like a hotel or restaurant being reviewed on Tripadvisor, if the sex worker’s service is given a positive review, the woman who received the review enjoys the benefit of increased contacts and custom as a result.
“Contrary to what certain ill-informed people would have you think, the women who advertise and are reviewed here are, for the most part, pretty savvy business people,” he said.
“They know that good reviews are key to growing their business – getting a good review makes their phones ring and generates income.
“We pride ourselves on treating everyone with the decency and respect that every human deserves and unlike most other sex worker review sites, we allow the ladies to submit a rebuttal to be added to any review with which they disagree so that readers can get both sides of the story.
“We will also remove reviews if it appears that they were deliberately malicious or intended to be hurtful, or if the lady simply notifies us that she is retiring from the business and does not want those reviews to be found in the future.”
To view the petition visit: change.org/p/stop-punternet-com-from-operating