Mahbuba Mammadzada, a 23-year-old model from Azerbaijan, recently hit the headlines after selling her virginity for £2 million.

The alleged winner was a ‘politician from Tokyo’, while an apparent lawyer from London and a Munich footballer came in second and third in the bidding, respectively. Before the finalisation of the “transaction”, the winning bidder would be able to verify the girl’s claims of virginity via a medical examination.

In a statement, the model said: “I want to sell my virginity on Cinderella Escorts and because I want to have a house for me and for my mum, so, finally, we can live in our own place, and also to travel all over the world with mum.

“I wanna live in the USA and continue my modelling career there with one of the top modelling agencies.

“I love dogs, and I dream to open a shelter for dogs in my country. My mum did everything for me until now, and now it’s my turn to make her proud of me.”

It was not the first time the infamous Cinderella Escorts agency drew media attention. In recent times, the online escort site has sold the virginities of many young, pretty girls to wealthy men around the world. The company reportedly attracts high-profile clientele such as celebrities, footballers, politicians, and wealthy businessmen, and is believed to take around 20 percent of the deal.

Jan Zakobielski, the company’s founder, told Forbes: “I think not everyone has the same reasons for it. But generally, a lot of rich men like exclusive things. What makes things exclusive? That not everyone can have it. For example, a very old wine or a luxury car, which is just produced 100 times. A woman can give just one time her virginity and she holds it for a minimum of 18 years. Further demand determines the offer. There are much more men who want a virgin than virgins who want to give their virginity to older men.”

Over the years, hoards of similar websites, which advertise virgin sales, have sprung up. Yet, the legitimacy and safety of these sites remain questionable for the young women who decide to wade into this arena. Some have even opted to cut out the middle man and resign themselves to other strategies such as finding someone they already know or even advertising themselves on sex sites or eBay.

The reality is that most of the women who do resort to selling their virginity on the Internet will not amass six-figure sums and it is, in fact, a rarity to command such a high fee. The average woman is more likely to earn a few thousand pounds and the final sale is heavily reliant on the girl’s looks. As such, young women may be lured into the notion with unrealistic and naive expectations. And even if it turns out to be a one-off encounter, it is still the act of selling sex, which could constitute a form of prostitution.

Dr. Devi Rajab, the former Dean of Student Development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a counselling and social psychologist said in an interview with IOL: “The question arises that if you have consciously had your first experience through paid sex, does it mean that you are sold into prostitution later?”

“How will this affect later relations when you have to tell your spouse that you sold your virginity? The implications are quite profound on relationships, trust, morality, self-esteem and self-respect. Moreover, the sale of sex has very little to do with love and romance and one wonders how these women would be affected in their later relationships. There is a basic degradation in selling one’s body for the sake of a satiation in a faceless encounter.”

In times of economic uncertainty and financial swings, young people have become more resourceful and enterprising when it comes to making money. The advent of the Internet has created an unprecedented avenue where any and everything is available for sale. And selling one’s virginity has become one of the more controversial and increasingly popular ways of monetising oneself.