‘Sugar daddies’ dating site targeting hard-up Paris students sparks outrage in France

A publicity campaign for a new dating site which aims to pair hard-up students with "sugar daddies" or "sugar mamas" by offering "passion and no student loan" has sparked outrage in France.

'Sugar daddies' dating site targeting hard-up Paris students sparks outrage in France
Photo: MairiedeParis/Twitter
Controversial dating site RichmeetBeautiful aims to set up students or “sugar babies” with a “sugar daddy” or “sugar mama”.
The site launched its publicity campaign in France on Monday, with trailers carrying billboards stationed near universities in Paris to specifically target students. 
“Hey students! Romance, passion and no student loan, go out with a Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama,” read the billboards.
And RichMeetBeautiful's website adds that students can find “successful men and women who know what they want” with the help of its services.  

French 'sugar babies' site hit with pimping lawsuit

Photo: Shutterstock

“Money is not a problem, they know how to be generous when it comes to supporting a Sugarbaby,” says the site.
Unsurprisingly the campaign quickly sparked a backlash, with Deputy Mayor of Paris Bruno Juillard calling the adverts “despicable”. 
The City Hall also announced its plans to work with the Paris police headquarters to remove “this shameful publicity” (see below).
The Minister for Higher Education Frederique Vidal and Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa also came forward to publicly denounce the site. 
“This site is nothing more than a tool that encourages prostitution and, as a platform that receives money for linking people up, its role is close to pimping,” they said. 
The ministers added that the site and public advertising campaign should be banned. 
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.”
The site's launch comes at a time when sexual harassment is very much at the centre of public debate in France, and indeed across the world, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. 
The revelations involving the Hollywood mogul have encouraged an increasing number of women to step forward and speak out against their own experiences of sexual harassment. 
And this isn't the first time 'Sugar Daddy' sites have come under fire in France. 
The group Équipe d’Action, (Action Team) was become the first in France to file legal proceedings against a 'sugar daddy' dating site, which they accuse of operating a disguised prostitution racket.


France to make period products free for students

The French government said on Tuesday it would make period products free for students, joining a global drive to end "period poverty" - the inability to pay for menstrual protection.

France to make period products free for students
Last year, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free universal access to period products. Photo: Andy Buchanan / AFP

Higher Education Minister Frederique Vidal said that machines containing free tampons, sanitary towels and other period products would be installed in student residences and university health services in the coming weeks.

She added that the government aimed to make period protection “completely free of charge” for all by the start of the next academic year in September.

In November, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free for all, blazing a trail that inspired feminists and anti-poverty campaigners around the world to also take up the issue of period poverty.

In England, free period products are available in all primary and secondary schools – a move New Zealand said last week it too would implement.

In December, President Emmanuel Macron had promised to also address the issue of period poverty.

Commenting on the plight of homeless women, he noted that “the fact of having your period in the street and to not be able to buy something to protect yourself and preserve your dignity” added to the humiliation they suffered.

The move to make sanitary protection free for students comes amid a growing focus on youth poverty following shock images of food banks being swamped by hard-up students due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many students say they are struggling to make ends meet after losing part-time jobs in cafes and restaurants which have been closed for months due to the health crisis.