As Apple Daily reported, a 16-year-old Taiwanese girl and her boyfriend have been arrested on charges of human trafficking after the police discovered they were using the popular social App LINE to lure customers.
According to the newspaper, 16-year-old Xiaoya [fictitious name] used LINE, an app owned by the Korean company Naver, in order to lure male customers with whom she had sexual intercourse. Because her ‘business’ was increasingly successful, she couldn’t handle it all by herself and decided to find other young girls to work for her.
5 girls, all of them between 15 and 17 years old, agreed to have compensated dating for money. Xiaoya would contact the potential customers through LINE, and then would arrange a meeting with one of the girls. Each client paid 3000 NTD (around 75 Euros), of which Xiaoya took 50%. Xiaoya’s boyfriend worked as a pimp and bodyguard for the girls. However, after one of the girls went to the police and claimed to have been sexually assaulted, the authorities launched an investigation and discovered the illegal business. Xiaoya and her boyfriend were arrested and face a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment.
When interrogated by the police, two of the girls said that working for Xiaoya was not bad, that she never forced them to work when they didn’t want to, and that she spared them a lot of trouble by organising everything for them.
This case has been linked by the media to the phenomenon of Enjo Kosai, or ‘compensated dating’. Enjo Kosai, which literally means ‘support relations’ (援助交際 in Chinese), first appeared in Japan in the 1990s. It usually refers to the relation of an older man and a younger woman in exchange for money. Though sexual activities are not always involved, they have become increasingly common (Wim Lunsing: Japanese Sex Workers: Between Choice and Coercion. In Sexual Cultures in East Asia: The Social Construction of Sexuality and Sexual Risk in a Time of AIDS. Ed. Evelyne Micollier, 2003, pp. 61-62). Enjo Kosai soon spread to other East and Southeast Asian countries, including Taiwan.