Last night I was watching the evening news and a tragic story developed before my eyes. Police responded to an “unknown trouble call” from an apartment on Graydon Hall Drive in North York, and by the time they arrived at the scene a 27 year-old woman had fallen 11 storeys from a balcony. A satellite dish broke her fall, but she is in hospital with serious head injuries. A man has been arrested in connection to the incident, and his interaction with the police left him as well as some police officers with injuries.
Here is the interesting part of the story: neighbours told the police that the apartment was an illegal massage parlour. Police have not confirmed this yet, but an online search for 150 Graydon Hill Drive lists a business called “Oriental Sunshine Exotic Massage” as operating out of the building. An apartment number is not specified.
Though I am not going to assume that the woman who fell was a trafficking victim, the possibility is certainly there. We will have to follow the development of the story as the police reveal more details. Often girls who are enslaved will do anything they can to get out of their situation, even if it means suicide. Another trend is that traffickers or Johns will violently punish girls who do not behave properly. In the last few months I have read other reports of prostituted women thrown off balconies – as punishment and as a way to instill fear into the other girls. Even if an apartment is not used as a brothel, often girls are locked in a unit and then driven out to their abusers (as seen in the film Lilya 4Ever).
Whether the 27 year-old was a victim of forced prostitution or not, this story reminds us that massage parlours and brothels are increasingly being operated out of regular apartment buildings and houses. If we are all on the lookout for suspicious activity (like a steady stream of men frequenting a certain unit), we can put a serious dent in such activity.
I will try to keep myself updated on this story as it develops, and let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, here are two articles you can read about the incident.
SIU to probe injuries at scene of balcony fall by CTV News
Civilian watchdog involved after 11-storey fall by CBC News