Belgium seeks to punish owner of ‘Sugar Daddy’ site

“This digital entrepreneur simply wants to run a dating site, he’s not an accountant of carnal desires,“defense lawyer Eric Cusas insisted. (Supplied)
Updated 06 April 2019

Belgium seeks to punish owner of ‘Sugar Daddy’ site

  • Vedal is also under investigation in France, accused of “aggravated pimping” after publicizing a version of his site on a Paris campus

BRUSSELS: Belgian prosecutors are seeking a suspended prison sentence for an entrepreneur accused of promoting prostitution through a dating site for rich men and young women.
Sigurd Vedal — a 57-year-old Norwegian investor, influencer and “relationship expert,” according to his site RichMeetBeautiful.com — appeared in court on Thursday.
In 2017, as students returned to the Free University of Brussels after their summer break, they were greeted by a truck carrying a mobile advertising hoarding.
The poster showed a woman’s bosom barely covered by a bra and the slogan: “Hey female students, improve your lifestyle, go out with a Sugar Daddy.”
The truck was seized after the university complained to the police, and Vedal has since been arrested and charged with “incitement to debauchery and prostitution.”
Appearing before court on Thursday in Brussels, he insisted that he simply wanted to encourage customers to seek dates that were “out of the ordinary.”
The state prosecutor denounced this argument as “hypocritical” and told the court: “Even if weasel words were used, everyone knew what it was about.
“There are half-dressed women on the site, there are no photos of couples in a restaurant,” she said. “Students are reduced to sex objects that must undress for money.”
In addition to a six-month suspended sentence, prosecutors asked that Vedal be fined 40,000 euros ($45,000) and his company Digisec Media a further 250,000 euros.
“This digital entrepreneur simply wants to run a dating site, he’s not an accountant of carnal desires,“defense lawyer Eric Cusas insisted.
The Belgian court will give its verdict on May 8.
Vedal is also under investigation in France, accused of “aggravated pimping” after publicizing a version of his site on a Paris campus.
RichMeetBeautiful’s Belgian site has been blocked, but a version is available in France under the slogan: “World’s No.1 Millionaire Dating.”
“FIND YOUR PERFECT MATCH FOR A RELATIONSHIP BASED ON LOVE, RESPECT, PASSION AND INTELLECT,” the strapline reads, over a photo of sports cars on the Las Vegas strip.
An older man in a tailored suit is pictured behind a younger blonde woman in a crystal-studded cocktail dress and alongside a luxury superyacht.
Users can sign up for free without proving that they are indeed rich.
A 45-year-old looking for female company is presented with a list of Parisian women in their 20s.
An email to the new prospective client, signed by Vedal, boasts that the site hosts “four sugarbabies for every sugardaddy” searchable by age or ethnicity.
“Get the respect and admiration you deserve from young women eager to learn from an established mentor,” it says.


Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 24, 2019 shows men with henna-dyed beards in Dhaka on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

  • It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: From shades of startling red to hues of vivid tangerine, brightly colored beards have become a fashion statement on the streets of Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Facial hair of sunset tones is now the go-to look for older men wanting to take off the years, with an array of henna options available to the style-conscious.
“I have been using it on my hair for the last two months. I like it,” says Mahbubul Bashar, in his 50s, whose smile reflected his joy at his new look.
Abul Mia, a 60-year-old porter at a local vegetable market, agrees that the vibrant coloring can be transformative.
“I love it. My family says I look a lot younger and handsome,” he adds.
While henna has been used widely in the country for decades, it has reached new heights of popularity. It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard.
Orange hair — whether it’s beards, moustaches or on heads — is everywhere, thanks to the popularity of the colored dye produced by the flowering henna plant.
“Putting henna on has become a fashion choice in recent years for elder men,” confirms Didarul Dipu, head fashion journalist at Canvas magazine.
“The powder is easily found in neighborhood stores and easy to put on,” he adds.
But the quest for youth is not the only reason why more and more Dhaka barbers are adding beard and hair coloring to their services.
Top imams also increasingly use henna powder color in what experts say is a move to prove their Muslim credentials as some religious texts say the prophet Mohammed dyed his hair.
In Bangladesh most of the population of 168 million is Muslim.
“I heard from clerics that the prophet Mohammed used henna on his beard. I am just following,” says Dhaka resident Abu Taher.

Henna has long been a tradition at South Asian weddings. Brides and grooms use henna paste to trace intricate patterns on their hands for wedding parties.
It has also long been used in Muslim communities in Asia and the Middle East for beards.
Previously, aficionados created the dye by crushing henna leaves to form a paste. It was messy and time-consuming but modern henna powder is far more user-friendly.
Taher, who goes by one name, believes the dye has given his beard added vigour.
“Look at this growth. Isn’t it strong?” he exclaims pointing to his chin.
“The powder turns the grey hair red but does not change the remaining black hair,” he explains.
Some believe henna powder has health benefits and, as it is natural rather than created using man-made chemicals like some dyes, does not cause any medical issues.
The new trend has also boosted barbers’ fortunes — more men feel compelled to dye their hair and to do it more often at the salons.
“In the past we hardly would get any customers for this,” recalls Shuvo Das, who works at the Mahin Hairdressers in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh neighborhood.
“But now there are clients who come every week to get their beard dyed,” he says.
“It takes about 40 minutes to make the beard reddish and shiny. It is also cheap. A pack cost only 15 taka (four US cents),” Das explains as he massages the dye mixture — imported from India — into a customer’s beard.
According to Dhaka University sociology professor Monirul Islam Khan, the growing number of henna beards “is a sign of increasing Muslim fervor in Bangladeshi society.”
But, he adds, even those who are not strict followers do it.
He explains: “They want to look younger. Even the women are getting fond of it as it makes their hair glitter.”