Airbnb and Booking.com tourist rooms increasingly abused for sex work
Increasing numbers of sex workers, particularly from outside Belgium, are using guest rooms via online platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com to receive clients. As a result, organised human trafficking is harder to identify, Gazet van Antwerpen writes on Thursday.
According to the Federal Judicial Police, sex workers are increasingly booking short-term rentals through these platforms. "Particularly in the big cities, the phenomenon is hugely popular. In Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Hasselt, we encounter home reception in tourist accommodation in eight out of 10 checks," says a researcher. "Those working illegally prefer not to be noticed. That is why many sex workers only stay in one location for a few days and then move on to another tourist residence. This, among other things, prevents neighbours from noticing anything."
Aid organisation Payoke is concerned about the trend. "This problem needs to be addressed at the European level," a spokesperson said. "After all, these are large international platforms that facilitate this and operate all over Europe."
At the Belgian federal level, the special parliamentary commission on human trafficking took a first step on Wednesday. In its recommendations, it is pushing for a plan to combat human trafficking in the hotel sector and through short-term tourist rentals.
© PHOTO LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP