Modern prostitution, how illegal activities are camouflaged as luxury services

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Under the guise of aesthetic services, dozens of physiotherapy centers have been turned into prostitution nests, where even a sexual act can be easily purchased. Referring to dozens of decisions analyzed by Investigative Network Albania, the court has concluded that administrators try to impose, incentive for extra payments, to ensure the cooperation of girls in illegal activity.

Author: Bleona Metushi

Xhina, only 15 years old, was one of the most wanted girls of “SPA Caliente” in Tirana for erotic massages; This is also confirmed by the numerous photos of the 15-year-old, that another employee of this center sent to the interested parties, when they asked: “Any new girl today, boss?”.

The minor received 1 thousand new lekë for each erotic massage she offered and often the satisfied clients left her a tip of 1 thousand lekë.

After a signal that the aesthetic center was used to hide the real activity, which was that of providing sex services, during an action, in February 2017, the police services found the minor hiding in the toilet of one of the rooms of the center, while in the room was found lying on a bed, without clothes, covered with a towel in the private parts, a 32-year-old Turkish citizen.

During the interrogation, the 15-year-old admitted that in addition to the massage, she was asked by the administrator Enkelejda I., to perform sexual services to clients for a fee, and she performed these sexual services.

Xhina is not the only girl who is “hired” as a masseuse, but they have compromised that they will also offer sex services.

Despite the fact that Albanian laws prohibit such activity, prostitution in our country is flourishing camoufaged behind luxury services.

Hidden behind aesthetic services, sexual services can be easily purchased in dozens of massage centers.

The administrator of “SPA Caliente”, Enkelejda I., pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for committing the criminal offenses “Exploitation of prostitution” and “Keeping premises for prostitution”, but then this sentence was converted to 5 year’s probation service.

Meanwhile, the two men, who were found in this center during the police action, were fined 120 thousand ALL.

Referring to the court decision, which Investigative Network Albania has at its disposal, the administrator imposed on the girls she hired, that in addition to massages, they also perform extra services.

“Regarding the refusal for sexual services to clients, Enkelejda told me that the refusal disrupts work and causes clients to leave. Enkelejda was constantly looking for a girl who offered sexual services”, – testifies another employee of the massage center.

The employee of I.L., of this center, put under investigation for the accusation of prostitution, after the operation in February 2017, told the investigators that she herself did not provide extra services to clients, but, according to the girl, her colleague openly told about these types of services.

“The administrator said that we should not embarrass her with the clients, as they should remain satisfied”, – she says in the testimony reflected in the court decision available to Investigative Network Albania.

Judicial acts show that I. L. has openly spoken to investigators as well. According to the testimony she gave, she also shows 3 forms of massages: “relaxation massages, therapy massages and erotic massages”.

Monetary values, paid for these services, are from 3 thousand to 50 euros or more, values vary from one massage center to another.

                                                                                                                      Vendimi 1851

                                                                                                                Judgment 1851, 2019 in Albanian

Since 2017, the Tirana Police has organized an average of 2 operations per year, spanning several months, where it has found the involvement of girls who are employed as masseurs in prostitution.

According to data provided by Investigative Network Albania, the most common form of “prostitution” in recent years is in massage parlors, where camouflage seems to be easier.

But, not only massages, body sales and sexual pleasures were also found online, as well as in the form of so-called escorts.

Prostitution in statistics

Through requests for information, Investigative Network Albania has learned that, since 2017, the Tirana Police has referred to the prosecution 46 persons suspected of the criminal offense of “Adaptation of premises for prostitution.”

Tirana Police told INA MEDIA that “it does not keep data on operations and can not specify how many of the cases are related to massage centers.” Confidential sources told Investigative Network Albania that in 2017 an operation was carried out in Tirana, which hit the illegal activity of prostitution, where the administrator, 3 employees and 3 clients were handcuffed.

In 2018, it turns out that there were two operations, where 4 massage centers were discovered, which were in fact a camouflage, 3 administrators were arrested and 7 employees were investigated for the accusation of “prostitution”.

In 2019, the Tirana Police turns out to have conducted a 1-year investigation into a prostitution ring, which had its origins in an aesthetic center, where girls were recruited, but further extended to the practice of prostitution in various hotels and abroad as an escort .

2020 is the year with the highest number of operations related to the crackdown on prostitution practiced in massage centers. There are a total of 3 operations with 5 administrators handcuffed. 13 girls were investigated for practicing “Prostitution”.

Online Escorts, not regulated by law

But, in addition to massage centers, another form of prostitution, online, has been flourishing in our country for years.

9 young girls agreed to work online, exposing body parts for a fee through the popular site The site, which enables online connections between girls and boys from all over the world, offers services, from acquaintances through conversations and in special cases also the exposure of different body parts.

Half of the payment for the services provided was kept by the company, while the rest of the money was divided among the girls, based on the time consumed online.

The girls, after being introduced by their friend with this type of service, went to the National Business Center to register the provision of this service, but were surprised when they received the answer that “currently, in Albania this type of service is not provided”, but at the same time they were told that it is not legally prohibited.

In this way, the girls, assessing that this action is not illegal, as it is close to professions such as work in the “call center” or in the “striptease” premises, which operate without any legal obstacles in Albania, have started online meetings .

Convinced that the work they were doing together is not prohibited by law, they acted openly, without any doubt in mind that this work might be prohibited.

This is the only file in the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office, related to the arrests made for what is considered online prostitution and which ended in court with an innocence verdict.

The Prosecution filed charges against one of the girls for committing the criminal offense “Exploitation of prostitution” and the other girls, provided by Article 113/1 of the Criminal Code.

The 8 girls and the person who had opened the online network, where sexual services were provided, told the investigators that in fact no one had forced them, but they had chosen to be employed in the considered hotlines.

The court found that “these actions are a free expression of their will for an activity, which was not included in the circle of activities, for which the National Business Center offers the registration of a business, as such remains a legally unregulated activity for tax purposes, but also an activity that is not punishable criminally ”.

But this case also raised a debate among experts in the field. They suggest that it is necessary to analyze the criminal offense of “Prostitution”, provided by Article 113/1 of the Criminal Code, from the perspective of Albanian jurisprudence and doctrine and the evolution that has followed this offense both in international practice and due to developments in technology.

“Our jurisprudence so far has been presented before the cases of the criminal offense of prostitution, which have met the criteria of physical contact between entities. Although foreign jurisprudence has evolved in the sense of sexual intercourse, by not limiting the meaning of sexual intercourse to the physical one, we consider that, to expand the meaning of sexual intercourse to criminalize an action, which is contrary to morality, but not with the law, it is not in accordance with the constitutional norms and basic principles of criminal procedure “, – says Bledar Meminaj, lawyer.

A group of people secured the girls, mainly through coercion, recruiting them to an aesthetic center and then sending them to various clients in hotels and trips abroad.

The Tirana court convicted 2 persons involved in the recruitment of girls for “Exploitation of prostitution” and 3 young women on charges of “Prostitution”, while the 9-month investigation, followed by wiretapping and surveillance, showed a wide range of activities, including luxury escorts with meetings abroad, but also the practice of prostitution. Even in this case the defendants’ sentences were converted into probation.

Meminaj explains that there is a deadlock in the Albanian law, which considers prostitution an exercise, only when it meets the criteria of physical contact, and methods of how the development of prostitution has evolved, such as the hotline are outside the law.

“Even the doctrine has the same approach, defining as sexual intercourse only those behaviors that are characterized by the physical contact of any part of the body of one of the partners with a genital area of the other partner”, – he explains, leaving legally unregulated what is considered online prostitution.

“The Constitution of the Republic of Albania in Article 39 stipulates: “No one can be accused or found guilty of a criminal offense, which was not considered as such by law at the time of its commission … known by the Latin principle “Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege”, meaning, there is no crime, there is no punishment without law “, – he further explains.

Often faced with cases of clients accused of “Prostitution” or even “Maintenance of premises and premises for prostitution”, Meminaj says that there is room for legal changes and adaptation to social changes.

He refers to the file of the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office, where some girls were accused of prostitution, which according to the prosecution were committed online, but then they were acquitted, because this activity is not regulated by law.

“On the one hand, the reform that the Ministry of Justice and the Albanian Parliament have already undertaken to criminalize the practice of prostitution through online platforms, has occurred precisely to respond to the new conditions in the light of the development of technology and the expansion of the conception of sexual intercourse “, – explains the lawyer Meminaj.

“Massagers with and without experience are required” 

The girls’ employment scheme is the same and common already. From social networks and online sites, administrators publish frequent job postings, looking for young girls “with or without experience”.

“The work of M. Center has been going on for 5 months”; I found it on social media. I did the job interview with the administrator,” said the investigated K. B., who had no other experience in massage or physiotherapy.

                                                                                        Vendimi 2316

Judgment 2316, 2021 in Albanian

“On August 16, 2020 I started working in the massage center “I. SPA”. I met the administrator, who explained to me that depending on the choice, I could offer clients extra services, such as masturbation, oral sex, which would have extra payment”, – testified before the investigation group another masseuse, investigated for practicing prostitution.

Vendimi 1777

Judgment 1777, 2021 in Albanian

For the investigators, the girls have indicated that they have chosen to do this job because of the economic conditions and the impossibility to find another job. – “I want to say that I do not have any specific qualifications in the field of massage.”- she said.

From some decisions analyzed by Investigative Network Albania, the court has concluded that the administrators try to impose themselves or give the girls incentives for extra payments, to ensure the cooperation of girls in illegal activity. Not in all cases this agreement is reached, but the administrators, who hide the real activity under the guise of massage centers, are always looking for girls who agree to this agreement.

Punishment in “probation service”

Albanian law is quite clear when it comes to prostitution, which according to the Criminal Code is punishable by a fine or up to three years in prison. For “Exploitation of prostitution” the punishment varies from a fine to imprisonment of up to 5 years, while for “Keeping premises for prostitution” a fine or imprisonment of up to 10 years is provided.

The wide margin of appreciation for the punishment in the last indictment makes mainly the sentences for this criminal offense go up to 1 year of imprisonment and then suspension, transformed into probation.

In 5 decisions analyzed by Investigative Network Albania, only one of the administrators was sentenced to 1-year imprisonment by the Court of First Instance. In other cases, the sentence was commuted to “probation”.

The girls, who were found guilty of prostitution, were not sentenced to more than 3 months in prison, also spent in “probation”.

The court turns a blind eye: Innocence to the administrator 

An operation, which handcuffed the administrator of the massage center “M. Center” and under investigation 1 out of 4 employees in September 2018, pointed out, according to the court, that prostitution in this center was practiced without the knowledge of the administrator.

Although the employee A. D., who was convicted of prostitution and admitted that she exercised this activity in the premises of “M. Center ”, but also another employee, stated that the administrator had asked them, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly to satisfy the clients with extra services, the Court of Tirana assessed that the guilt is not proven.

“I had never discussed this fact with the administrator, as I was ashamed and it was just a tacit agreement between me and the client,” said the co-defendant before the investigators.

The latter speaks to the assurance of the clients by the administrator and his request that they remain satisfied.

But, the testimony of the other employee, who denies having provided these services, speaks on behalf of the administrator.

“If the client asks for extra services, such as masturbation or oral sex, do it, nothing bad is going to happen”, – claims K. B., that his employer has been forced to practice prostitution. Meanwhile, items used for sexual acts were found in the premises of the center, however the evidence for the guilt of the administrator was not convincing in the court assessment.

Vendimi 1568

Judgment 1568, 2019 in Albanian

A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Investigative Network Albania, said that, despite the fact that massage centers are being used massively to hide the real activity, that of prostitution, this should not be generalized.

“There are many massage centers that offer only massages, without other services and focus on their legal activity, but some of these centers perform illegal services,” said A. I., with altered initials to protect his identity.

Based on the concrete cases, A. I. also raises the concern that these centers are turning into bases for the distribution of narcotics.

“In addition to prostitution, the distribution and sale of narcotics, cocaine and hashish has been observed in these centers,” he told Investigative Network Albania.

But, how do you track down these centers ?! The police officer tells Investigative Network Albania that everything starts from contacts.

“Young boys, who show that in massage centers not only the massage process is performed, but also prostitution. It mainly happens that they are inside the neighborhoods, where most of the residents in the building are family members and have concerns,” he says.

Further these clues or even denunciations of concerns are followed on the ground in most cases with infiltrated officers.

Legalization of prostitution as an opportunity

For experts, the concealment of this activity through massage centers comes as a result of social and economic changes.

According to them, with the change of mentality, already “aesthetic and massage centers” are frequented for various aesthetic services, not only by women, but also by men.

Bledar Meminaj, Lawyer

For the lawyer Meminaj, this fact has created ease in the purchase of the sexual act, but also the declaration of profit from a legal activity.

In the context of modern cases of prostitution, Meminaj says that the time has come for our country to have a different approach to this activity. He suggests that it is probably not an impossible step to legalize prostitution or other legal interventions to penalize the purchase of a sexual act.

Under the effect of many factors of social, economic and cultural nature, the time has already come for our country to have access to several other countries and the practice of prostitution can be legal under the legal regime of economic activity or can be treated under one another legal regime, where the purchase of a sexual act should be penalized and the sale of a sexual act should be decriminalized”, – said Meminaj for Investigative Network Albania.


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