A married couple has been remanded in custody in connection with their involvement in an illicit massage parlour business where foreign women worked part-time offering erotic services to male clients including handjobs.
According to local media, a 39-year-old physical therapist described as a Greek national and his 36-year-old wife from China were remanded on Wednesday for eight days by a Nicosia district judge, following a police raid earlier this week in the capital as well as Limassol.
The women offered massages including using their hands to arouse male clients until climax, while local media suggested the establishment served as a local brothel
The husband and wife are facing multiple pending charges including illegal gains, trafficking, and sexual exploitation, with police saying the couple was running an illegal business offering massage to male clients in two apartments in Nicosia and Limassol.
During the raids, law enforcement officers located a total of seven women of foreign nationalities who are being treated as possible human trafficking victims, according to a police report.
The women, who were said to be from Ukraine, Cameroon, Nigeria, Nepal, and Vietnam, reportedly worked either part-time or freelance offering erotic massage including using their hands to arouse male clients until climax. Local media also suggested the establishment served as a local brothel.
“We don’t do something wrong. It’s just massage"
Reports said the male suspect denied any knowledge of prostitution on the premises.
“I have nothing to do with that,” he reportedly told police after he was read his rights.
The second suspect, the man’s wife, also denied illegal activities had been taking place in the apartments.
“We don’t do something wrong. It’s just massage,” she said while being handcuffed.
Police say they are treating the other foreign women as possible trafficking victims, with details heard in court including the way the male suspect would approach women and offer them to work at his massage parlour. Reports said some of the women answered the suspect’s ads and contacted him for a job, while others were recruited by him personally.
Reports also said the suspect would first test the skills of the women on himself prior to hiring them, offering to train them further. According to information heard in court, some of the women said they were asked to dress provocatively and look sexy on the job.
Police said they suspected more people were involved in the operation but did not clarify whether this included more women as possible victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation, including non-consensual sex work.
Prices and dress code
According to an online ad on a specific website, the massage business was presented as a “place of relaxation” where male clients could book an appointment for a massage priced between €40 and €120, depending on the duration and specific services offered during the session.
The women who worked as masseurs, reportedly in their late 20’s and 30’s, were being paid biweekly while it was alleged in court that they would first begin working on a salary for a couple months and then switch to commission.
Prosecutors for police told the judge during the remand hearing that the women were often yelled at by the male suspect, who demanded they carry on with their sexual duties in order to please the customers.
It was not clear whether the male suspect was a licenced physical therapist, while prosecutors also said his wife would often stand guard in one of the apartments while sessions were in progress.
A number of male clients is also expected to give statements to police, as investigators build a case against the couple in the coming days.
The sex industry in the Republic of Cyprus is unregulated. While prostitution is not illegal, running a brothel is an offence punishable by law, along with trafficking and pimping activities.