Mobiles improve a market, but harm AIDS/HIV prevention

Posted on November 26, 2012  /  1 Comments

We have always been interested in how mobile technology can reduce the frictions of time and space and thereby improve the functioning of markets. If the market being improved is that for agri produce, there is no disagreement. Eliminating the middle (wo)man would call forth a wave of approbation. But in the case being reported, the demise of the middle (wo)man is being mourned. May be we will be not looked at as crazy when we talk about a continuing role for the middle (wo)man in agri markets.

Indeed, the recent closings of hundreds of ancient brothels, while something of an economic victory for prostitutes, may one day cost them, and many others, their lives.

“The place where sex happens turns out to be an important H.I.V. prevention point,” said Saggurti Niranjan, program associate of the Population Council. “And when we don’t know where that is, we can’t help stop the transmission.”

Cellphones, those tiny gateways to modernity, have recently allowed prostitutes to shed the shackles of brothel madams and strike out on their own. But that independence has made prostitutes far harder for government and safe-sex counselors to trace. And without the advice and free condoms those counselors provide, prostitutes and their customers are returning to dangerous ways.

1 Comment

  1. This indeed a very sad situation. The other side of the story is that a considerable percentage of the victims are being under aged/children. Even though we have laws to say only above 18 year’s can only purchase a mobile connection, we see a high penetration level among children (i believe Mobile Operator’s strategy on targeting youth has paid off). Children using mobile to coordinate and attract sex is becoming very high. It has put our next generation in great danger. Also internet (sites such as Facebook, skype) being used for “cybersex” activities is far high than we know. The issue of tracing these will have an impact on applying breaks.