PARIS (AFP) - The Paris mayor's office has sought to ban a new dating website for wealthy men seeking to meet younger partners that has been accused of inciting students in the French capital to prostitute themselves.
A trailer hired by the website richmeetbeautiful.fr drew the ire of students and was widely condemned on social media on Wednesday (Oct 25) after it was parked in the 5th district of Paris, home to the Sorbonne University.
"Hey students!" read the low-budget poster stuck on a trailer pulled by a car.
"Romantic, passionate and no student loans," it continued next to a picture of a man, considerably younger and less wrinkled than the intended users of the site, whispering suggestively into the ear of a woman.
"Go out with a Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama," it concluded.
Reacting to images circulated on Twitter, the Paris mayor's office said late Wednesday that it had alerted prosecutors and would seek to ban the site.
"As well as the public order problems caused by an advert that can be seen by minors, this site is an offence against women," deputy mayor Helene Bidard told AFP.
"Behind these airbrushed images there are young people who could end up in prostitution," she explained, adding that she hoped investigators would press charges for pimping.
The Norwegian-based website ran into similar problems last month with a campaign in Brussels where authorities also launched a prostitution probe and impounded posters.
Site boss Sigurd Vedal told AFP afterwards that criticisms likening the site to prostitution were unfair.
"It's a classic misunderstanding," Vedal said. "We are like a normal dating site, but financial is part of the checklist."
In France, student association FAGE said it had also lodged a criminal complaint about pimping, adding that the advertising campaign "is aimed at attracting vulnerable students... and encouraging them to perform sex acts with older people."