Lack of affordable housing in areas like South Florida prompts advertising online for rent paid with sexual favors

MIAMI – Want ads are getting new meaning in the Internet Age, with men posting advertisements for female roommates who can live virtually free, as long they’re willing to have sex with them.

One recent posting in the Florida area on the popular states: “Upscale executive seeks beautiful female 18-24 to live in his luxury condo in Coral Gables for $1/month in exchange for some light duties. Help take care of dog, cook occasionally. Sex 2x/week. Serious inquires only. Please email a picture for consideration.”

Another reads: “FREE RENT FOR A PARTY GIRL!!!!!!! If you like to party and don’t want to pay rent, well then send a pic and some info about yourself. If I like what I see then I’ll email my phone #.”

Postings like these bartering housing for sexual favors are said to be worrisome not only because they target young women desperate for affordable housing, but they may also be against the law.

”They would be of concern to us,” Sgt. Kelly Sullivan of the Miami-Dade Police Department told the Miami Herald. “It is a form of prostitution because they are enticing young girls who may be strapped for cash.”

In the paper’s survey of online ads seeking sex for rent, no men who posted such ads were willing to comment, and there were no ads written by women seeking men.

Such a distinction demonstrates exploitation, according to Sophie Brion, director of the Miami chapter of Women’s Movement Now.

”Advertisements soliciting women for sex in exchange for housing are offensive and disturbing. They are an indicator of how much work still needs to be done to eradicate institutional inequities and harmful attitudes toward women that persist,” Brion said.

Not every reader of Craiglist is thrilled with the explicit ads, as a frustrated New Yorker posted: “You’re [f——] sick! stop doing that or at least make it clear from the very beginning. I don’t want to read your ‘oh and by the way, you have to sleep in my bed’ after I waste my time reading all the other regular stuff. What’s wrong with you people?!!”

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights recently filed legal action against Craigslist for allowing ads the group believes are discriminatory.

The suit rekindles the debate about regulating the Internet, if it should be regulated at all.

Michael Masinter, a law professor at Nova University, says Congress – not the courts – should make such decisions. Until lawmakers address the issue, she believes the Net should be left alone.

“The Internet has to be permitted to flourish, otherwise we would all be reduced to an Internet serviceable to 12 year olds. If they were required to prescreen the millions of ads posted on their site, it would be the end of Craigslist,” she said.

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