Two websites were created within the framework of the campaign: www.meitenes24.lv and www.izglabvalsti.lv . These websites projected the situation in Latvia, imitating actual sexual service portals and referring to the opinion of specialists (criminal law experts, gynaecologists, contraceptologists) on the foreseeable economic benefits of the state, if Latvia legalized prostitution, thus making the country itself a legal souteneur and levying taxes from sexually exploited girls and women.
On June 16, 2010 the social campaign was opened on the Internet. Reacting to the interest of mass media, the State Police immediately (5 hours after opening the campaign) blocked the website www.meitenes24.lv and, indicating a breach of legislative acts that forbid offering of sexual service on the Internet, asked representatives from both Centre “Marta” and agency “Baddog” to come to the police and give explanations.
At the police, the organisers of the campaign ascertained that the law enforcement institutions lack instruments to attain actual criminal digital brothels on the Internet. On June 16, 2010 the State Police opened an administrative case against Centre “Marta” for breaching the “Regulations Regarding Restriction of Prostitution”, yet at least 19 other digital brothels are still active on the Internet in Latvia.
Reacting to the attitude of the State Police, a public Sex police, www.seksapolicija.lv was established within the campaign. This website asked all Internet users to gather information on those sites that openly offer sexual services in Latvia.
Websites that give providers of sexual services a possibility to advertise these services actually promote prostitution, as they facilitate the get-together of the supply and the demand and could be actually seen as a virtual marketplace, in which sexual services are sold and bought. The activity of virtual brothels is ensured by IT specialists, editors, administrators and also persons, being responsible for placement of advertisements. These persons actually promote prostitution and violate Article 12 of the “Regulations Regarding Restriction of Prostitution” that prohibits any activity of the third person which promotes prostitution. For non-observance of these Regulations a person shall have administrative liability and for repeated non-observance of these Regulations during the same year criminal liability is foreseen.
The way sexual services are advertised and offered on the Internet in Latvia makes one think that placing of advertisements is an organized activity and virtual brothels guarantee a profit to the site providers. This should be considered as souteneurism, which is a criminal activity. Competent officials of the prosecutor’s office conclude that sexually exploited women presently provide profit to about 8 persons that are involved in the organized criminality.
The Association Resource Centre for Women “Marta” believes that the State Police does not use its legal possibilities, guaranteed by the legislative acts, to restrict prostitution and trafficking in human beings in Latvia. This is proved by the refusal of the State Police to start a record-keeping in an administrative breach case on promotion of prostitution on the Internet.
On July 5, 2010 the Association Resource Centre for Women “Marta” submitted an application to the State Police, asking to start record-keeping with regard to 19 websites that breach Cabinet Regulations of January 22, 2008, No. 32 “Regulations Regarding Restriction of Prostitution”.
In its response to the application by Centre “Marta”, the State Police concludes that it has gathered information on the administrators of digital brothels, as well as has made written enquiries, as a result of which it has concluded that „the information in the advertisements and advertisement blocks is not their responsibility. In its turn, every site user is personally responsible for any information that he/she puts on the site or sends to other portal users in any way.”
Centre “Marta” considers this attitude of the State Police to be absurd and uncontrollably promoting prostitution and trafficking in human beings in Latvia. This is also shown by the reaction of the State Police on June 16, 2010, when the website www.meitenes24.lv of Centre “Marta’s” social campaign “Buy a Girl – Save the State” was immediately blocked and an administrative case against Centre “Marta” for breach of “Regulations Regarding Restriction of Prostitution” was opened.
Centre “Marta” believes that providers of at least 19 digital brothels, in which sexual services are openly offered, are people that actually promote prostitution and breach Article 12 of “Regulations Regarding Restriction of Prostitution” prohibiting any activity of the third person which promotes prostitution.
Association Resource Centre for Women “Marta” is preparing an appeal to be submitted to the State Police regarding its decision to refuse to start the administrative record-keeping in the case on digital brothels.
During the campaign, a creative video “Help Latvia!” was made and distributed via the Internet and social networks.
A report on the situation and the attitude of the State Police was prepared and sent out, in order to inform the international community and the U.S. Department of State, which is the monitoring institution for issues on trafficking in human beings.