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Dhaka Tribune

Escort services thrive on social media

Update : 19 Apr 2018, 01:15 AM
After Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked around 150 porn sites in 2016, escort service providers have now started to make use of social media platforms to attract their prospective clients. Conducting drives in different areas of Dhaka, law enforcement officials have recently arrested eight people linked with such business online. Of them, seven – Md Mahmud, 22, Asif Hassan Tushar 28, Kazi Kader nawaz, 25, Rezwanul Hayder, 28, Sayed Biplob Hasan, 23, Moshtofa Mosharof, 25 and Nurunnahar Nuri, 19 – were arrested in Gulshan and Badda areas on Saturday. After gleaning information from them, law enforcement officials arrested another person named Mahtab Rafiq on Monday for his alleged involvement in the crimes. Rafiq, who claimed to have studied engineering in the UK and launched RMG business upon returning home, admitted that he used to administer eight such groups and six pages on social media. He also said they had been providing escort services for the last four years and reached out to clients from all over the country by using different social media tools. “This is the first time Bangladesh has busted such a large gang involved in online escort business,” a police official said, adding that they found that an average of 100,000 people have subscribed to each of these groups and pages. A case has been filed against the arrestees under the Information and Communication Technology Act and the Anti-Pornography Act. Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Nazmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of the Cybersecurity and Crimes unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said they always keep an eye on such websites and Facebook pages. “We found that underage girls are being deceived into taking part in pornography in the name of escort service. We then found several groups and pages promoting pornography content and running escort business online,” he said. “We will continue our drives against those involved in such illegal business.” Echoing Nazmul, Md Alimuzzaman, deputy commissioner of DMP’s Social Media Monitoring and Cybersecurity Division, said: “We have detained several people in this connection and are now trying to glean information from them. “The information provided by them is being verified. We are also trying to arrest their cohorts.” According to sources linked with the investigation, members of such a social media-based group reached out to two foreign nationals and promised to help them get close to girls as young as 18 and take sex services in exchange for $100 to $150 per hour. The members also tried to persuade them into subscribing to their group, saying they would arrange sex services at $15 per hour if the foreign nationals did so. The two foreigners, who later visited Bangladesh for their official purposes, disclosed the matter to law enforcement officials, the sources added. The gangs opened at least 100 such pages using pseudonyms and started finding alternative ways to reach out to their clients after police launched a crackdown on the pages upon receiving the complaints. The six most popular and widely visited pages among the 100 are Shishir Ahmed, Rikon Khan, Apurba Chowdhury, Pasha Bhai, Omi Chowdhury Apu and Alex Prodhan. Administrators of the pages run pornographic advertisements by distorting photos of teenage girls and young women and have opened their websites and YouTube channels to run their prostitution rackets. They also sell sex toys through their websites and social media pages.
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