Prostitution Rings In Colombo
Brothels masquerading as massage parlours and karaoke bars
By Gazala Anver
This is a side to Colombo not many see, or admit to have seen. While prostitution is illegal, the oldest profession in the world is thriving in the streets of Colombo. Where there is demand, there will most certainly be supply. Whether it is need for money or out of force prostitution is functioning in a strange harmony with the legal professions.
But the question is, how can it function so well if it is illegal? The answer is, of course, obvious to many. Speaking to a source well acquainted with the different prostitution circles in and around Colombo, (who spoke to The Sunday Leader under the pseudonym of Ganesh,) it was revealed that prostitution exists, only because the law allows it. “This cannot be done without police cooperation. There is a well known hotel in Bambalapitiya, which the police raids on and off, but the business at this hotel carries on unhindered despite these raids,” he said.
In addition, despite widely publicised crackdowns by the Telecom Regulatory Board (TRC) on websites with rather controversial and explicit content, a simple google search resulted in many revealing finds. This and the obvious cooperation, or perhaps blind eye, which many major hotels around Colombo have opted for, leads to the perfect atmosphere for the trade to flourish.
How they operate
Ganesh explained that several of these brothels masquerade as massage parlours. In fact, a well known five star hotel in Colombo, located near the Galle Face, is well known for this. “You have to pay Rs. 7,500 at the counter for a Thai massage. No one would guess that it happens at such a reputed hotel. A Sinhalese and a Japanese lady run this. There are 12 rooms, and while giving the massage, the lady asks for a tip of 10,000 for sex.”
Backing this allegation, are the countless accounts of men, both foreigners and locals, who have freely admitted to having experienced this, in a website online. Acting as a sex guide, this website gives in-depth information on how to “score” one in all parts of the world, including Sri Lanka. One satisfied custome explains his experience at this massage parlour. The entry was made in 2008, and the amount he was charged for sex at the time was Rs. 5000. “I enjoyed my first day there at the massage parlour. Its worth your pay at counter for Rs.7500. Then you pay a tip of Rs. 5000 to the Thai girl you select. They give you a wonderful bath…” at this point he goes on to explain that he indulged in oral sex and afterwards “they give you a wonderful massage with oil and then a body to body massage…and gives ‘direct action’ to you.”
Similarly, there are many other accounts quoting the same place throughout the website, from their many “satisfied customers.”
But it isn’t just the five star hotels that have an underground notoriety for this, there are other hotels, other “massage parlours,” that render a similar service, for varying prices.
Another entry made by a foreigner on the website mentioned above speaks of a massage parlour in Bambalapitiya. “The parlour is located on the second floor. There is a very fat ugly woman at the counter who is supposed to be a herbal doctor and we are to assume that she’s running a herbal massage clinic! Somewhere along the hallway some teenagers were negotiating the deal with a very uninterested fair skinned short haired Sinhalese girl… A lot of Sinhalese aunty types in their 40’s were there. There were some young ones too. “I picked up a tiny estate Tamil girl from Awisavella. Price was RS 700 for the massage…” He explains that the room boy informed him that for an addition Rs. 3000 he could have sex with her. “Went into the room – she wanted ‘tips’. Gave her Rs 500 – she shows me her chest… it was another Rs 500 (for more action).”
But it seems while this is prevalent, there is a class of prostitutes most people are willing to pay for, and some, not so much. The above commenter exclaimed that he was far from satisfied and felt he was ripped off. Similarly, many of the commenters on the website shared the singular opinion that local women were a) cheap but b) not worth the trouble.
One commenter simply said “don’t pick up Sri Lankan women… She will nag you all day as she just wants to go back. The order is as follows best to worst : Russian, Ukrain, Uzbek, Moroccan, Lebanese, Iranian, Thai, Chinese, Sri lankan. Now remember, Sri lankan women are not experienced, so…don’t waste your time with locals.”
Clinics and karaoke bars
Following the recent arrest of two Chinese prostitutes, it was found that there are in fact many Chinese prostitutes in Colombo. One comment on the web site went on to say “they have mounted an invasion on the country!” and that there are quite a lot of karaoke bars and Chinese clinics aka. brothels around Colombo.
Karaoke bars also run their own prostitution rings. Speaking to a surprised foreigner, who discovered on visiting a karaoke bar on Galle Road that it was in fact a brothel, he elaborates on his experience and what he saw while at the bar.
“I grew up in Austin, so when I heard there was a karaoke bar called ‘——————–,’ (name withheld) I made a few of my Sri Lankan friends take me there. When we walked into the bar, it was dark and we were almost the only people around other than the DJ and the bartender. We ordered over-priced drinks and sipped them while we surveyed the scene. There was pseudo-Western paraphernalia like saddles and coils of rope laying around. Every once in a while a woman in a revealing outfit would walk through, although none of them everapproached us. After a while, we got bored and hit the dance floor, where we were still about the only people. After a while, a group of university-aged men came in and were escorted past us and up the stairs into a private area. A few of the men later came back downstairs with prostitutes and joined us on the dance floor,” he explains.
Despite being illegal, several places flourish in their business. With Sri Lankan prostitutes earning the least, and Russian prostitutes the highest, there are however some people and places, according to several complains on the website, which make a profit without actually selling sex. They do this by swindling the people.
Comments on the wes site in fact cautioned that when a Trishaw driver says he can take a person to a prostitute, it will most often result in a cheat. The trishaw drivers put them on to people, who take them to a discreet location in a car, and once they pay, some ruse is created for them to leave the vehicle, and the car speeds off with the money and the promise of sex, unfulfilled.
Another also spoke of how he was taken by a trishaw driver to a Chinese restaurant with the promise of sex and had his money stolen from him instead. “ A middle aged, short haired lady and a young girl came out to negotiate. They charged me SL Rupees 4,000 inclusive of a room at the hotel. The rooms really looked a mess. We were given one room but we have to use an outside bathroom. My girl wanted to wash me and took me to the bathroom. While in the bathroom, I realised something was not right. I pushed the girl aside and went to my room to find the short haired woman in my room emptying my trousers. When I confronted her she shouted to me that the police is coming and ran out. I realised that she had already taken some money from my pocket. Immediately I dressed up and left the hotel.”
Digging around a bit for some more information, one will come across certain parties blatantly offering employment opportunities to those interested, as well as provide an escort service of girls whose pictures are clearly from Tamil movies. The ‘About Us’ section says: “We guarantee a professional and discreet escort service to make your stay in Sri Lanka a most pleasant one. Colombo is another of the cities in Sri Lanka which we work from and have on our portfolio a large selection of Sri Lanka escort girls to choose from. Our site contains information about escorts from every major part of the world. Whether you are traveling through Sri Lanka, or are based in one of Sri Lanka’s major cities and are looking for the sexiest escorts Sri Lanka Escort Service has to offer then make us your first point of call. We list escorts, Massage services provides erotic models, strippers, exotic dancers and other adult entertainers.”
There was even a tariff card with prices. The description said: “The prices are the best with respect the clients. The money in not a matter in case of Sri Lanka escorts and their services. This guide to escorts and adult entertainment contains nudity and adult content. In particular, you affirm that you are of legal age (over 18, or 21 years old, depending on your jurisdiction) and that you are not offended by nudity or images of an erotic nature. The primary purpose is client’s satisfaction and try to accomplish the requirements of clients.”
Others too openly advertise their services. One particular agency went on to say, “Our lovely girls will be perfect companions to this tropical paradise. Your companion is with you the entire time, you can go to the beach, casino, out dancing at the local night life spots, or stay on your Hotel room, it is your vacation, so you can enjoy it in any way you like!
Young sexy clean and energetic and friendly.
21 to 27yrs. no pics as a policy.
2hrs prior notice is needed to avoid disappointment.
Short time 1hr $ 250
Short time 3hrs $300
Full time 5hrs $350
Over time 8hrs $450
Full day 24hrs $650
Starting from, 4pm to 7am.
Contact with your name hotel name and room number.
Hotel and transport arrangeable.”
One poster was found of the popular actress Anne Hathaway, with writing on the poster saying Sri Lankan Call Girls with an Indian number provided, and a caption at the bottom saying “I am a call girl.” There are even budget escorts, and airline stewards freely selling themselves.
Prostitution is clearly rife, that darker side which continues to grow, and yet most people, including the authorities, choose to ignore, and it must be said, indulge.