Four women working in brothels disguised as massage parlours had paid sex with between five and 12 men each on any given day, a court heard on Friday in a case that exposed the complex workings of Malta's underground sex trade.
Four women, three Ukranians and one from Moldova, all pleaded guilty to working as prostitutes in three massage parlours.
Shortly afterwards, the women were all presented, individually, as witnesses against Fayton Falzon, the alleged owner of the parlours, whom they described as “the boss”.
The parlours, the Body Kiss in Pieta, Faithful in Sta Venera, and The Queen in Birkirkara, were all monitored as part of a police investigation into the illicit sex racket.
The men paid €50 and they wanted sex - no one pays that money just for a massage
During some two hours of examination and cross examination by Inspector John Spiteri and Mr Falzon’s defence lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, the women detailed how they would work gruelling 13-hour shifts.
Starting at 9am and finishing at around 10pm, the women would deal with a stream of men and end the day splitting the money they made with Mr Falzon.
“The men paid €50 and they wanted sex - no one pays that money just for a massage. We would take the money and give half to Fayton [Falzon],” one of the women told the court.
The women all detailed how the clients would “nearly always” want sex, and few would want to just have a massage. Some would leave a tip at their discretion, but the €50 charge included “any kind” of sexual activity the client wanted, the women said.
One of the women, wearing shorts and a tank top in court, detailed how a regular client would “take care of himself” after a half hour massage, while other clients wanted to have sex straight away and skip the massage altogether. At the end of the long day, the women would clean the parlour themselves and taken home, usually by Mr Falzon himself.
Watched at work
The women also claimed they were monitored on CCTV by Mr Falzon who would want to know how many clients visited his three parlours every day.
“This is how he would know how much money we had made, and how much we had to pay him,” one of the four women said.
They would also have to pay him another €20 for food, wet wipes, and condoms
Aside from giving Mr Falzon half of the money they made from their daily prostitution, the women also told the court, presided by Magistrate Claire Micallef Stafrace, how they would also have to pay him another €20 for food, wet wipes, and condoms, which they would jokingly refer to as “snickers”. He would deliver these supplies to them every day.
One of the women told the court she was not certain what she was expected to do in the parlours when she first arrived on the island, but when she saw the condoms, it instantly became clear.
The court also heard how some of the women lived in Mr Falzon’s apartment, while others lived close by.
A fifth woman was also presented as a witness in court. Asked where she lived she said: “I don't know - they pick us up, and they take us”.
She had started working in parlours in Malta to try to keep up with debts she had incurred. In fact, this was not the first time she had worked in Malta, as a prostitute, to try and keep up with her debts.
In this case, the woman said Mr Falzon had paid for her flight to Malta. The other four women all said they had paid for their once-only travel to the island.
From Ukraine to Pieta
The women all had different stories explaining how they wound up working in Malta’s illegal sex industry.
While one said she had been introduced to Mr Falzon by a friend who had worked in one of his parlours previously; another said she had been introduced to the alleged pimp by his own girl friend.
One of the four told the court how she had worked in Malta in a similar establishment before, and had flown back to the island to work in a massage parlour in the hope of paying for her daughter's costly medical treatment.
The youngest of the four women said she had not been in Malta long before she was arrested and had made €175 from two days' work at The Queen parlour in Birkirkara.
The women all made contact with Mr Falzon via mobile phone messaging apps such as Whatsapp. Some had sent him photos of themselves “to see if they were good or not”.
The court also heard how one of the women had first worked in one of Mr Falzon’s alleged brothels since 2013, while she had heard of other women working on the island prior to that.
A one-way ticket out of Malta
The four women: Yulia Sosnik, 28, Tetiana Shapovalova, 41, Tatiana Druta, 29, and Alina Shcheblykina, 26, were all handed a one-year prison suspended for two years. They were all deported from Malta back to Ukraine and Moldova, after they pleaded guilty and cooperated with the police investigation.
Meanwhile, Mr Falzon, 30, saw his request for bail granted against a deposit of €800 and a personal guarantee of €10,000. The court heard how he had already been given a suspended sentence on similar charges in recent years.
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