Sugar daddies and sugar babies arrived in Hungary

A couple of weeks ago several disapproving articles appeared about a website called puncs.hu, which is a meeting place for sugar daddies and sugar babies. Although the site opened its doors for business more than a year ago, it became “the talk of the town” only at the end of August of this year when the company behind the website launched an aggressive advertising campaign. The timing of the placement of large billboards depicting a sensuous, semi-naked young woman was not random. It coincided with the beginning of the academic year. All over the world these sugar daddy/sugar baby websites target university women who are struggling to make ends meet without accumulating enormous debts by taking out student loans. This seems to be true whether these sites operate in Europe or in the United States. The sugar-daddy business is lucrative.

One of the most popular and best known sites, called “SeekingArrangement,” has generated over 10 million sugar daddies, sugar mommas, gay daddies and gay boys from 196 countries. “This site is especially popular in colleges because college students have free access to premium features if they sign up with their .edu email address.” The same is true of a French site called RichMeetBeautiful, whose billboard specifically addresses university students. RichMeetBeautiful is a Norwegian company that gained initial success in Scandinavian countries and has been expanding throughout Western Europe. The Guardian reported about two weeks ago that the company’s large billboards appeared near Belgian campuses, “offering a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ experience.” The Belgian government promised to launch criminal proceedings against the firm for “inciting debauchery and prostitution.”

So, it was inevitable that some enterprising Hungarian businessmen without many scruples would launch a Hungarian version of the sugar-daddy site. Soon after the puncs.hu billboard blitz, Péter Weiler, one of the owners of Dating Central Europe Zrt., was interviewed by HVG. He explained how he and his business partners had gone through several “dating sites” until they hit on the idea of a sugar-daddy site. First, they had a site called “Randivonal.hu” and later the “Szexrandi.hu” (randi is a popular abbreviation of rendezvous/randevú). Apparently, Hungary is behind the times because several large national sites existed before the birth of puncs.hu in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the Hungarian company is alone in the field, for the time being, business is booming. According to Weiler, “ever since its opening users are pouring in.” The site by now has 70,000 customers. The journalists conducted the interview in a matter-of-fact way, remarking only once that “according to most feminist discourse a sugar baby is a prostitute,” which naturally Weiler denied on the grounds that the meeting of the baby with her daddy is not “a casual encounter.” Such abuse of the site would be “incompatible with the moral principles of the company.”

“I date only well-heeled guys”

It looks as if the moral principles of others don’t exactly mesh with those of Weiler. Not only were 20,000 signatures gathered online against the site, several writers and artists started a petition of their own. They demand the removal of all advertising for the site from public places. They consider puncs.hu a “proactive supporter of prostitution” which, on top of everything else, “has received public money.”

Public money? What’s going on? In November 2016 Fruzsina Előd wrote an article for Index titled “Sexy university student is looking for a rich lover.” The article states that there are six owners behind punch.hu, one of which is Dating Central Europe Zrt., a startup that received money in 2014 from “Gran Private Equity” (Gran Kockázati Tőkealap) for an online dating site. Gran Private Equity a year earlier received 4.3 billion forints of EU money, part of which was used to launch Dating Central Europe Zrt. Thus, indirectly, European Union funds are behind the first sugar daddy/sugar baby Hungarian site.

Since in order to get full access to the site one must be a client for about 10,000 forints for a month, I could look around only on the public portion of the site. But an investigative journalist from Átlátszó did sign up for a month in the name of a fictive 20-year-old university student called “Bogi,” who got plenty of offers, including an invitation to a luxury orgy for two million forints. One night costs between 20,000 and 150,000 forints. Men pay a monthly fee of between 150,000 and 400,000 forints. Bogi’s experiences during the month she was pretending to be a sugar baby were truly incredible. She received 800 messages from 142 mostly married men. When she indicated to them that she was not interested in having a sexual relationship with a married man, they informed her that, in that case, she doesn’t recognize “the true purpose of the website.” On the basis of the letters she received, she came to the conclusion that “the site caters to married men in search of lovers for money.”

Several women politicians from the opposition parties objected to this site and looked into the possibility of at least getting rid of the billboards. But Nóra Hajdu of Együtt was unable to find a government organization that is responsible for matters like this. Beáta Hegyesi of Párbeszéd actually pressed charges against Dating Central Zrt., the owner of the site, for promoting prostitution.

Andrea Pető, a professor in Central European University’s Department of Gender Studies and a doctor of science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, wrote an article in Kettősmérce on September 13, a few days after Péter Weiler’s interview appeared in HVG. At that time Átlátszó had not yet unearthed details about the depravity of the site, but it should have been clear to anyone that there was something very wrong with it. Yet HVG’s two journalists, Adél Hercsel and Róbert Németh, gave “free advertising” to the site by inviting Péter Weiler, the owner of puncs.hu. Pető rightly points out that “it is questionable from an ethical point of view when the interviewer doesn’t ask probing questions about the consequences of the assertions of the interviewee.” She argues in the article that the interview, which was supposedly “objective” and “unbiased,” was actually “spurious” and “harmful.”

Andrea Pető’s criticism of the HVG interview is valid. It is impossible to know who asked which question, Hercsel or Horváth, but their total lack of concern over the use of women as sex objects is disconcerting. The two journalists expressed no disapproval of such a practice. There was only one sentence, a quotation from the Criminal Code, that might be applicable to puncs.hu, but otherwise there was not one word about the human rights issues in this case. Moreover, one of the interviewers proposed that mostly feminists would consider a sugar baby a prostitute. This is not a compliment in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, where feminism is frowned upon and labelled outright injurious to the kind of society the powers-that-be find appropriate and desirable.

November 8, 2017
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Penny Oswalt
Guest

All over the world these sugar daddy/sugar baby websites target university women who are struggling to make ends meet without accumulating enormous debts by taking out student loans. This seems to be true whether these sites operate in Europe or in the United States. The sugar-daddy business is lucrative.
SUGAR DADDIES AND SUGAR BABIES ARE NOT NEW TO US “BABY BOOMERS” FROM THE 1960’S. iT SEEMS TO BE NEW PHENOMENA AMONG THE MILLENIAL GENERATION. AS A CURRENT COLLEGE STUDENT MYSELF, I WAS NOT AWARE OF THIS LUCRATIVE BUSINESS. WAKE UP YOUTHFUL GENERATION!!! SELLING OUT IS NOT A NEW THING.; WHEN WE STUDY SOCIETY TODAY, THIS AWARENESS IS CULTURAL, SCIENTIFIC, YET IT SADDENS ME TO KNOW THAT US “BABY BOOMER GENERATION, LEFT THIS LEGACY TO THE PRESENT.

exTor
Guest

comment image

I object to the misguided moralism of this piece. People should be able to conduct their lives in a manner that resembles prostitution if that’s what they want. The women and the men engaging with Puncs know what they are getting into. It’s not for interlopers to interfere, to foist their repressive moralities upon others.

As for ‘paying [sexing] for one’s education’, the only shame is that this kind of ‘opportunity’ is only available to the good-looking.

This is the real world writ large.

MAGYARKOZÓ

exTor
Guest

Some in Hungary (and elsewhere)
might feel that the website puncs.hu
should exchange the CS to an I in its URL.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

exTor

Yes everyone should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to be paid for sex or not, but the point of this article is that EU money should not pay to advertise protitution.

dos929
Guest

Immoral practices under an immoral government…

Guest

Another nail in the coffin for the EU, which despite paying its employees huge wages, is inexplicably incapable of monitoring the funds it so generously doles out to Hungary.

Jean P
Guest

Of course it is aggravating that punch is doing business with Hungarian university students rather than with Thai women earning money to send home to feed their children.
The uproar shows that liberalism doesn’t have deep roots in Hungary. The liberal Scandinavian viewpoint, which I adhere to, is that it is nobody else’s business what grown up people do with their sex as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.

Marty
Guest

This is more complex. First, nobody really wants to interfere with people’s private life here. People do whatever they want to. They get to know sexual partners, accept money, life goes on. The issue here is a publicly promoted site which enables, promotes behavior which is morally controversial. In order for the business to grow, however, it will have to relativize the moral issues and normalize the behavior which clearly denies some long standing moral principles. Secondly, it is always a big question just as with Weinstein, Marton etc. whether the women really had the freedom to enter into the transaction. Was the Cambodian girl who sews shirts all day long free to choose the sweatshop in which she works for 2 dollars a day or was she forced in some sense and so it’s a kind of exploitation that modern society shouldn’t approve? (See the famous legal case https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochner_v._New_York )

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘The liberal Scandinavian viewpoint, which I adhere to, is that it is nobody else’s business what grown up people do with their sex as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody’

Sure. On the other hand punch is the type of vice which invites the ilk of ‘Weinsteins and Spaceys’ to engage in situations where they with their dissolute and depraved private lives play power games with the literal ‘objects’ of their relationships.

Put another nail in the coffin of Magyarorszag in its continuing spiral of political, social and cultural dissolution. This script was written in past history before. Question is can it endure its vices. The dice look stacked to me. Pretty soon being er ‘virtuous’ in such a pn oh so ‘Christian’ country will be the most ridiculous thing which can ever describe an individual there. It will send jokes to another level.

Guest

A bit OT re Christian countries:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/09/breed-like-rabbits-and-reverse-population-decline-poles-urged

Maybe Fidesz will start a similar campaign to ask people to breed more – but then they should use mangalica pigs as an example instead of rabbits like those Catholic Poles ? 🙂
PS:
my wife says she already saw this in the Hungarian news and also this story – which is related to our topic in a way:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/08/qatar-airways-plane-forced-to-land-after-wife-discovers-husbands-affair-midflight

Jean P
Guest

“The issue here is a publicly promoted site which enables, promotes behavior which is morally controversial.”

The Hungarians have no trouble with “morally controversial” behavior unrelated to sex such as stealing public assets. The Fidesz gang being in power certifies to that fact.

Matrty
Guest

Many people have a problem with stealing public assets – and they may be the ones who condemn punch.hu’s reinterpretation of moral principles.

By the way, it’s not like people are OK with stealing. But voters have a very limited way of expressing themselves. They have two ballots per 4 years (to be cast for a limited number of parties in a certain election system) — you cannot conclude much with respect to complex attitudes like people’s attitude to corruption which is itself a complex term.

People may hate corruption, but still think Fidesz is still better than the old “commies”, or “commies” also stole, so it’s Fidesz turn now, or there is corruption everywhere etc. etc. etc. And this is corruption only. People have complex, contradicting views of everything, you cannot generalize like this.

Guest

This has been going on for hundreds (or thousands ?) of years, maybe on a smaller scale for the very rich and powerful – just consider Trump and the world bank boss (forgot his name), German CSU boss Seehofer, our former chancellor Willy Brandt used the Communist spy Guilleaume for this …
So why the sudden uproar?
Because the internet kind of democratises this – giving a chance to everybody?
In a way this is ridiculous – typical Christian hypocrisy ,,,
The feminists should search for ways to give better chances to the students.

PS:
If a woman marries for money (and power – again look at Trump’s wives …) that’s not a problem obviously …

Ferenc
Guest

OT –Frau Schmidt’s Magazine
Cover of current issue comment image
Look what’s ‘written’ inside the white dot!
More details about content at https://444.hu/2017/11/09/a-figyelo-lett-az-allami-gyuloletkampany-reklamujsagja

PS: This is completely unacceptable! Get them to court, sue them till bankruptcy, demand excuses on next cover (in big letters!), and in any way possible the biggest amount of compensation for spreading lies, insult, smear campaign, etc.

Ferenc
Guest

Further thoughts:
They’re a bunch of lousy cowards, only putting local NGO’s like that on the cover is ‘easy’. They didn’t dare to put internationally known organizations in the spot, like Amnesty International, UNHCR or the EU itself! And why not? Because that would internationally reveal what this bunch of *sh*l*s really ‘stands for’!!
Better get a bucket, fast…..

Marty
Guest
It’s pretty interesting that one single women (and the journalist didn’t put up pictures of herself!) could receive contacts from 142 different men. This indicates to me that men are several times (perhaps orders of magnitude) more overrepresented than women. As a result one could also say that punch.hu is really just a scam since the site will never be able to provide the men customers (the sugar daddies) with enough potential sugar babies. Most men will end up empty handed no matter how much they are willing to pay. There are simply so many (maybe less than 10% of all members, maybe even less) babies at punch.hu. The 142 contact is a ridiculously high figure without even pictures. Women anyway tend to be underrepresented at dating sites (just as they are underrepresented at clubs which is why often women can enter for free whereas men may have to pay a cover charge – men tend to prefer clubs which have a reputation of having many single women, if there only men, soon the reputation of the place forces the club to shut down as men start to stay away) and especially at controversial ones like the infamous Ashley Madison… Read more »
Guest

Marty, you took the words right out of my mouth!
Your description of those dating sites is spot on. On the other hand – something rather OT:
From my contacts on the internet I know that there are as many sexually frustrated women as there are men – and some of them are also looking for casual sex partners …
The problem lies with society:

Sexual escapades of well-off men usually are considered normal by most conservatives and Christians etc – while women who do the same …

So I know some men who have made it their hobby to “help” their female neighbours and friends e g – you don’t have to be a “stud”, using some blue pills often helps …

@Eva:
If you think I’ve gone too far, please delete this!

Marty
Guest

wolfi, I guess the problem here is money, not sex. Also it’s normal that money is an issue to a certain extent in every relationship but beyond a certain point such calculations eventually kill the relationship. And there are very few who want to be directly paid on a transactional or lump sum (monthly) basis.

By the way I would dispute punch.hu’s self-disclosed 70k customer figure, this would imply over 2m customers in the US (for a population that is over 30 times bigger). I think it’s a highly inflated number (punch.hu is under no obligation to tell the truth). Punch has a huge incentive to inflate that number because of the ‘network effect’. The bigger the market the more value the market has for every new customer whether it wants to sell or buy, as the chances of finding a willing counterparty increases.

Istvan
Guest
There is nothing new here for Hungary, Budapest has been a hot spot for sex tourism for many fears now. I have in the past posted links to sites that have reviewed the sex industry for Budapest tourists, I have also named clubs in Budapest where college girls make themselves available for sex and pay fees to the clubs for the privilege based on what my own daughter head from some of them while visiting these clubs with cousins, and their are clear indications that the police are aware of these operations that are outside of legally authorized red light areas. All of this interfaces with international Mafia operations including cross border trade in Hungarian women. There is nothing shocking here really. Hungarians tend to operate in denial about all of this. It is just like how US civilians were and are in denial about the massive prostitution industries outside of numerous US military bases in foreign nations. The most amazing of which was outside the Subic Bay base in the Philippines prior to it closing in 1992, here is an article that touched on that reality http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-09-07/news/8901110191_1_olongapo-american-sailor-nuclear-free-zone That article only touches on the totality of the sex industry around… Read more »
Member

You are correct Istvan. This is just a new way of playing an old game. It’s not that much different from the regular prostitution sites, except there, men can log on for free and the women who furnish the various services are not usually undergrads.

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