Before last week, I had only been inside one massage parlour, aka a brothel. They are hard to find, and it took us months before they even let us come in. At the time I volunteered with a charity that was an initial contact for women who worked on the streets. There was a significant class difference between the street workers and the massage parlour employees. Our only agenda in the brothel was to build relationships and offer other options, resources, etc. if they wanted it. Mostly we wanted to provide a safe place for them. Now I am a part of the charity that helps women who have been rescued from trafficking. But the woman who led the other charity (Liz) and I are still good friends and would love to start a brothel pastoral care program.
Liz let me know that she had heard rumours of another brothel and wanted to drop off flowers for the mums for mother's day. Most of the sex workers we have met are mothers.
So off we went, hands full of gladiolas tied with a green ribbon. We ended up having coffee in one for 45 minutes, and tea in another massage parlour (the first lady insisted we take flowers to her cousin in another establishment) for an hour and a half. It was surreal, and both places invited us back. I ended up writing two more chapters for my novel (I thought I was done!) as the visits were so significant. After a long discussion from a madam, who incidentally gave us £10 for our ministry (what???), she encouraged us to visit all 17 brothels in the Sheffield area.
In later posts I may include short excerpts from my book, but I thought I would do a little photo montage of the three brothels for you (buildings, not the ladies). I have removed the names, phone numbers and made the buildings a little less recognisable for security's sake.
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