Deep Dive

A Look At Our Red Light District- How Street Walkers, ‘Massage Parlour’ Workers Operate

Local Prostitute tells: From there we can catch a taxi and go to a hotel for an hour. Some clients come in their cars, which is better. It is $50 a pop.
21 Aug 2020 12:14
A Look At Our Red Light District- How Street Walkers, ‘Massage Parlour’ Workers Operate

Her lips are painted cherry red and her short black dress reaches above her knees.

She barely looks a day older than 17, but insists she is 20. She says her name is Vika and is from the Western Division. Vika is not afraid to admit that she is a sex worker.

On a closer look, the black eye she is carrying becomes visible.

“It was the other girls (sex workers),” she said.

“When a new girl comes to the area, they are beaten and chased from there. It is a challenge because the older women who are regulars are very strict about their area.”

And the spot she is referring to is one of Suva City’s well-known structures.

According to Vika, the ‘girls’ hang around the area and are picked up from there.

So how does one actually ‘pick’ a girl up?

“You just signal to me and I will follow you,” said Vika.

“From there we can catch a taxi and go to a hotel for an hour. Some clients come in their cars, which is better.

“It is $50 a pop.”

Vika sticks around the capital on the weekdays, staying with relatives in an informal settlement in Suva and returns to the west on the weekend.

“Suva is where the money is,” she said. And the well-known building is a busy part of the city which experiences traffic in thousands.

The girls are easily able to blend in the crowd. By doing so, they also keep away from the watchful eye of the authorities.

And according to Vika, even in the daytime, business is good.

The law

Prostitution and operating a brothel are both against the law. This is very clearly defined in the Crimes Decree.

However, the act has to be caught while there is exchange of money and with very credible evidence. Massage business operators deny and have said they are not aware of what happens inside the rooms.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said proving prostitution and the massage parlour operations has been quite hard.

“The element there. It is about proving that a transaction occurred and that it was for other purposes,” she said.

The massage parlour

Sex services from massage parlours have become more popular among the locals in the capital city.

So much so, that an operator has opened a second shop just 50 metres down the road from his first shop.

All employees are local ‘girls’.

Screenshot 2020-08-21 at 12.12.40 PM

And a few metres away, a notoriously-known hotel has dedicated its second floor for massage services. A signboard is placed on the footpath advertising a phone number.

According to the person on the other side of the line, a full body massage is $60, but to get that done, the customer has to pay for the room.

And any extra services which lead to a happy ending is a deal between the customer and the ‘girl’.

Similarly, the operations of the massage parlours are legitimate. They are registered with the right offices and there is nothing shady.

This is because people going in for the massage, pay for the massage and what transpires inside the room happens between the client and the girl.

The only money that exchanges hands with the business owners is for legitimate purposes and there is total deniability as to what happened inside the massage room.

The girls employed in these massage parlours are sex workers. The massage parlours provide a safer and secure environment.

Lani Catanisiga works at the shop next to the new massage parlour that has opened.

She said she has seen customers during day time, but it picks in the afternoon when people get off work.

The customers

Rajen (not his real name) is married and has three children. He uses the services of the massage parlour because he can walk in at any time of the day.

He said he paid for a full body massage to the people at the front desk and then paid $50 to $100 separately to the masseurs.

He said it allowed him the freedom to select the girl he wanted to be massaged by. He said picking a girl from the street and then taking her to a hotel room is a cumbersome task.

The massage parlour is a convenient one stop shop.

In the Suva City market, the massage parlours are quite a hit even with the married man.

Vendor Moreen Ali said it was quite shameful what some men were doing.

“Some of them are married and say they have to access the massage parlours because their wives are working and tired when they reach home,” she said.

“I was told by one of them that they had needs. You would be amazed to find how many people go there.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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