Women in Helsinki’s Thai-massage parlors get no payment for regular massages

Photo: Aaron Pruzaniec
Photo: Aaron Pruzaniec

A new report from the Finnish Ombudsman of Minorities shows that women at some Thai-massage parlors in Helsinki are victims of human trafficking. Even though they work at a massage parlor they will only get paid for performing sexual services.

Chief inspector Venla Roth form the Finnish Ombudsman of Minorities tells Finnish national broadcaster Yle, that the women rarely make their own decision on whether they want to prostitute themselves or not and that the women at massage parlors will only get paid for sexual services.

“Either the workers get no pay at all for massage, or the pay is too small to do it alone. To get enough money, these women will then be forced to sell sex,” Venla Roth tells Yle.

The report does not investigate the percentage of Thai-massage parlors that offer sexual services. But many parlors are known to be undercover brothels, in 2007 Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat visited 30 Thai-massage parlors in Helsinki and in every single one they were offered sexual services.

Read more: Join hands to end human trafficking

Different backgrounds

According to the report, the background of the women at the massage parlors varies. A lot have come to Finland to get married to a Finnish man, but stands without money after a divorce. Some are working while still married in Finland and others have been imported directly from Thailand.

The women often live at the parlor or only go home when they need to sleep.  Venla Roth tells Yle, that it is problematic that the women are so isolated.

“The possibility for them to seek help or even contact someone other than their colleagues and clients is almost nonexistent. These women live in a culture of exploitation that makes them believe that they have no choice.” Venla Roth tells Yle.

Read more: Thai prostitution in Denmark – A tight-lipped society

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