Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

While many in Phuentsholing are questioning how the complainant of an alleged prostitution case could be arrested as she informed the police to seek protection, police officials said that she was a part of the racket.

Police in Phuentsholing detained a 49-year-old spa owner in the heart of the town on June 9 after a 28-year-old woman from Haa complained that she was sexually exploited. The complainant was also arrested later.

According to police officials, the spa owner and the 28-year-old woman mutually operated the spa that was also engaged in prostitution for four months as they were both in need of money.

Police claimed that the complaint was lodged only when the worker had financial issues with the spa owner.

“The complainant also had a tussle with the spa owner’s brother-in-law,” a police official said.

Officials also claimed the woman could have lodged the complaint before if she was sexually abused and exploited, as she is an adult.

As per the complainant, the employer exploited her to have sex with the customers in the massage room for Nu 1,000 a person. The customers were said to be mostly foreign workers.

The complainant had come to Phuentsholing four months ago and was staying with the spa owner and worked as a helper in her bar, which is attached to her spa.

She was paid a monthly salary of Nu 5,000.

According to police, the spa owner and the complainant took a share of Nu 1,000 each.

“The spa owner charged Nu 1,000 for the spa service, while the complainant charged Nu 1,000 for sexual services she provided after the spa.”

The complainant had her own small room.

Police also said the spa owner from Chukha confessed to the crime.

The case is registered under prostitution and promotion of prostitution. The complainant will be charged for prostitution, while the spa owner will be charged for the promotion of prostitution.

The crimes are graded as misdemeanour cases with prison terms ranging from one to three years.

Meanwhile, many in Phuentsholing said arresting the complainant could set a bad precedent and women will not be able to come forward to complain.