Weston-super-Mare brothel is 'safe space' for sex workers - manager speaks out after BBC investigation
PUBLISHED: 11:52 28 February 2017
The manager of a Weston-super-Mare brothel says trying to shut it down would have disastrous consequences for the women working there - who would end up being exploited by pop-up brothels run by people who do not care about their safety.
Tracey Smith has been the manager of Butterfly’s Massage Parlour in Alexandra Parade for 10 years.
Butterfly’s recently came under fire after a BBC investigation said it had hired girls as young as 15 to clean its rooms and hand out leaflets – claims Tracey says are ‘completely false’.
She added: “It couldn’t be further from the truth. The girl in the programme has never set foot in the premises.
“The girls who work here clean their own rooms as and when required, or I do the cleaning myself.”
The BBC Inside Out West programme said leaflets with provocative images were handed out by teenage girls, but Tracey told the Mercury: “Any leaflets advertising Butterfly’s have never shown a woman – the only image they ever have on them is of a butterfly.”
Tracey has opened up about how the business works, and says women rent rooms as self-employed workers who provide massages behind closed doors.
She added: “The girls work here voluntarily, they are never forced to work. They come and ask for a job and more often than not say they feel safer here than any other places they have worked.”
Since Butterfly’s opened, CCTV and security lights have been installed in the alleyway near its entrance and security is on hand 24/7 to ensure the women are safe.
Tracey said every woman who has ever worked at the brothel has had their ID checked, and added: “We have regular health checks for the girls and regular inspections from the council and the police.
“We have a no drugs policy and if we think a girl might be an addict of any sort she cannot work here, but we support them to get the help they need.
“We are a very supportive place to be – if a girl has any kind of problem we will help.”
She said pop-up brothels operating out of rented accommodation are far more dangerous for sex workers, and added: “It’s terrible some of the situations you hear girls have experienced.
“We have had girls come to us who have gone to work at other places and realised their ID was going to be taken away and they were going to be trafficked.
“We operate as much above board as we can, under the law, and we have always paid tax.
“Making Butterfly’s a target would have horrible consequences for the girls who work here.”