There's a rich debate about the legality of sex work in the United States. On one hand, if it were legalized women could unionize, experience tax and healthcare benefits, and be otherwise protected from exploitation.

On the other hand, if it's legalized, then that encourages women to turn to sex work, further subjugating and sexualizing them. So, therein lies the rub.

A German-based dating site called Ohlala just launched in New York City, and though it claims it's not an escort service, it allows men to pay women to date them. 

Which, in turn, would put pressure on women to sleep with them after the date, even while said dating service says it's not an escort service.

Ohlala's site does advertise its "Clarity," stating, "Share what you're looking for before the date even happens."

Vice reported that ever since Amnesty International proposed the decriminalization of sex work, the global debate over the morality of sex work has caught on even more fire than it already had, given that it's the world's oldest profession., which was considered the world's biggest male escort website, was recently forced to close in the United States. Proponents of the sex work industry took's closure as a blow to their rights.

"The dates can be about just having dinner with someone. We don't know what actually happens once arrangements have been made either - both parties are expected to clear that up themselves," said Ohlala founder Pia Poppenreiter.

Poppenreiter claims her site's platform, as a result of its sleek interface and corporate identity, is strides ahead of its competing sites, like escorting site Mysugardaddy.


Ohlala is also different from competitors because of its anonymity factor. Its users' profiles cannot be accessed publicly. 

In order for men on Ohlala to see the site's women, they must first register and request a date. Women on the site first select their minimum hourly rate, and can then browse the dates, view men's profiles, and accept a booking.

Before they're thrown into a Tinder-like chatroom, both parties must mutually consent. As of now, only men can pay women for dates, but in the future straight and gay male escorts will be able to register as well.

Of course, safety is a concern for women on this site. Women are able to report suspicious users, and Ohlala then notifies all women in touch with those users. Poppenreiter also said she's planning on introduce more safety features for the women using the site.

In Berlin, where sex work is legal, some sex workers prefer operating independently on a site to working with an agency.


via Ohlala

"I would never work with an agency," said Sarah, a sex worker who uses Ohlala. "Actually, if I had to hand over part of what I earn to an agency, the whole thing wouldn't really feel self-determined anymore."

Some of Ohlala's members see the service as a great way to earn extra money.

"I kind of set myself a goal of earning as much money as I can this weekend," said Ohlala user Emma.

Do we like the idea of women having a chance to earn extra cash? Sure. Are we worried about the women in question's safety if they're to use this site? Absolutely.

Would we feel altogether relieved if the site established some kind of consistency or accountability by offering the opportunity for women to hire men, too? In a weird sort of way, yeah, we would.

Check out Magnises Just Moved Into Chelsea's Iconic Limelight Building

[via Vice] [Feature Image Courtesy TechCrunch]