Sunday, January 20, 2008

Questions of Ethics

There's a new day spa in Tirana, apparently very beautifully decorated and with very high standards of service. When I heard about it coming many months ago I was thrilled and looked forward to going there for manicures and pedicures etc. It would be especially nice for me since it's just around the corner from my house. I could hardly wait for it to open. Well it opened at the end of December and over coffee one morning my friends and I chattered away about our plans to go check it out ourselves.

That is until one of the ladies hesitantly said she had heard rumours about the place- quite nasty things were being said. Things like the staff (brought over from an Asian country) were being mistreated. Passports taken away. Salaries not being paid. Conditions sounding quite like slavery or trafficking, don't you think?

So what to do? Would you go? After all, so far the story is all rumours and we haven't heard or seen any concrete evidence. Would you boycott? Would you be very vocal about the unethical treatment of women? Would you go but not tell anyone you went?

It's interesting to me- I have three friends- a American, a Romanian, and a Dutch woman- who all vehemently state that you will NEVER catch them in this place. NEVER. And I have three other friends- a Romanian, an American, and a Canadian- who regularly make appointments there. So we can't say that our decisions are based on our cultures, but somewhere along the way, we make decisions about situations like this one. What makes one woman decide that it is okay, and another decide that it is not? So far the story is based on rumour, but how can we find out the truth? What is truth in this situation? Should one of us make an appointment and go there with the purpose of asking the staff how they are being treated? Would they tell the truth or would they maybe exaggerate in order to get sympathy and perhaps a bigger tip? And then what do we do with the information? Perhaps a visit to the owner of the spa with direct questions is the thing to do?

I've decided not to use this spa, but still, knowing what I do, is it enought to not give them my business?

What would you do?


Lynda said...

hmmm good question. Personally I have very very strong feelings about human trafficking. It sickens me. But even in Australia there are nail spas popping up on every corner - with only Vietnamese girls working there. I have used these places, believing that Australia would not allow these girls to be treated badly..... but there is always a little tickle in the back of my head that takes the edge off the pampering. Rumors can do so much damage. Anyway to find out for sure?

oreneta said...

Tough tough tough....I would probably feel that I needed to know more, a little investigative journalism...the other option is to go often enough to gain the confidence of one or two of the staff...

Not so easy.

The other question is, if you find out that this is going on, what do you do next? If you aren't going to do anything, or lack faith that the gov't will, is there a point in befriending the staff....

Something to think about.

Ll.T. said...

So what is the name of the spa Kim?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you go just once and talk to the workers. Maybe it's just an unfounded rumor.

Ginnie said...

Wow! I have no idea what I would do, Kim! I'd want to first figure out where the rumors are coming from. Where are YOU hearing them? I like the idea of befriending one person (always making appts. with the same person) and building trust to find out the truth. Is that possible? Or will they be afraid of losing their job if they tell the truth!

hockeyman said...

I wouldn't go -- Hockeymen are not spa men..

Howeverif was a spa guy - I would make appointements and go. Here is the question- assume its true- do you think boycotting really helps those girls? Wouldn't it be better to be a regular customer and start a discussion among other regulars.

The best way to help those girls is to go to the spa..

belle_fleur said...

I would befriend the workers until I find out the whole truth. If you found out that this is for sure, we could arrange to write a story in the daily journals. I don't think that a new business that has high standards wouldn't be afraid of bad publicity.

ITS said...

Hi Kim,

Maybe you should address social services, and the local police with your concerns.

It would be hard to make your decision based on rumors.

Miss Kim said...

Lynda... How to find out for sure? Hummm... I suppose I would have to go there with an appointment with my ears and eyes quite open.

oreneta... yes. What to do with the information?

Llukan... Maybe we should talk.

onortosu... if it was all rumours (and I hope it is), that would solve the dilemna.

ginnie... not sure they'd lose their job but they may be treated even worse.

Hockeyman... yes... and I'm torn between going and not going... but your argument seems reasonable.

belle_fleur... for sure bad publicity would be a powerful threat especially in Albania.

its... True. It's all rumour until I personally go there isn't it? Social services and local police? Hummm... I'll keep that in mind.

Thanks for everyone's feedback! Seems most of you think I should make an appointment and check it out myself.

Anonymous said...

You're an intelligent person informed by your brain rather than by the state of your nails. So ethics isn't the issue, what counts is what you can do with what your brain tells you.