Airbnb promises to combat sex work in rentals during Paris Games

By AFP   May 3, 2024 | 05:24 pm PT
Airbnb on Friday agreed with French authorities to step up the fight against rentals on its platform being used for sex work during the Paris Olympics this summer and beyond.
A person holding an iPhone with Airbnbs logo on screen. Illustration photo by Pexels

A person holding an iPhone with Airbnb's logo on screen. Illustration photo by Pexels

The home rental platform signed a convention with MIPROF, a government organization tasked with protecting women from violence, and fighting human trafficking, the French body said.

"Although such incidents are rare compared to the number of reservations, Airbnb commits, through this long-term collaboration, to supporting efforts made by the industry and the authorities to put an end to exploitation and human trafficking," the platform said in a statement sent to AFP, saying it would pay close attention to the possible use of rented homes for sex work.

Among efforts to raise awareness among renters, Airbnb and MIPROF said they had compiled a "guide for the responsible traveler" to help them recognize signs of exploitation or human trafficking going on in the building or neighborhood where they are staying.

MIPROF said it would dispatch teams to assist Airbnb, which in turn promised to strengthen its cooperation with police and the judiciary.

"This convention with Airbnb is major, given its central position in the tourism industry," MIPROF's secretary-general, Roxana Maracineanu, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Maracineanu, a former sports minister, had already warned at the end of last year that there was a "heightened risk" of human trafficking during the Olympics, and that the government needed to send a "clear and strong message" to traffickers.

Hotels were already vigilant concerning prostitution on their premises, she told AFP in December. She said the worry was "prostitution in homes, inside apartments".

Police in several countries have identified a preference by sex workers and pimps for short-term rentals, including on Airbnb, because they offer more discretion than hotels.

Although prostitution remains legal in France, the purchase of sexual services was criminalized in 2016, allowing for the prosecution of clients. Pimping and brothels have been illegal for decades.

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