Massage Parlors and Human Trafficking Part Two

In America we tend to think of sex trafficking and human trafficking as being something that happens in other countries. Slavery and sex trafficking are not simply something that happens in some other country, it is happening right here in our Nation.

In my previous post I showed you one story of human trafficking from Ohio, the following three links with quotes come from California, Texas, and Utah followed by a link from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Overwhelmingly based on our investigations in Huntington Beach and throughout Orange County and Southern California, the women involved in most of these massage parlors are trafficked in,” said the Chief, who explained that many were forced to work six days a week at the coercion of pimps and panderers.

Authorities recently arrested four Houston men and charged them with human trafficking crimes for allegedly flying in women from China to live and work in massage parlors where customers were offered sexual services.

Anti-trafficking advocates who work in the city say its proximity to the Mexican border and position on an interstate corridor has contributed to the profusion of sex-focused businesses. According to Micah Bailey, director of operations at the advocacy group Elijah Rising, the city’s sex workers are a mix of young American women and men who have run away from home and fallen in with pimps, Hispanic women who have crossed the border, and Asian women who have been brought to the country through fraudulent employment services.

Authorities believe the women who work in the parlors are being forced into the sex trade, working to pay off debts after being brought into the United States. Police brought a Chinese translator with them as the women who were questioned spoke little English.

“It is absolutely slavery,” Reyes said. “It is horrible. It’s horrific and perhaps the most concerning thing about it is people don’t realize it’s going on in our state.”

“These victims are going to get a chance to get the resources they need, go home — if home is a safe environment — get counseling because it’s going to take years for them to heal from the horror they’ve been living for who knows how long,” Reyes told FOX 13.

Who are the victims?

The victims are most often Asian women, of diverse ethnicities and nationalities, including Korean, Thai, Chinese, and ethnically Korean-Chinese citizens. These women may have come to the United States on valid visas, fraudulent visas, or may be undocumented or have been smuggled into the United States. Most victims of sex trafficking in fake massage businesses are adult females. One fake massage business may involve one or two victims or several victims.

When does it become trafficking?

Employers at fake massage businesses use force, fraud, or coercion to exploit women in commercial sex acts. Common means of control used in these types of brothels also include:

Force: Isolation and confinement to the brothel; regular and frequent transportation to other locations or other cities by drivers working for the trafficking network; physical or sexual abuse.

Fraud: False promises of a better life; misrepresentation of the work, working conditions, and immigration benefits of the job; visa fraud.

Coercion: Heavy debts, increased through exorbitant fees for food, personal items, transportation, and “security”; restrictions on communication to family or others outside the network; threats of deportation and arrest; confiscation of passports and visas; rumors of or witnessed violence at the hands of traffickers or police used as threats.

* An individual under the age of 18 engaged in commercial sex is considered a victim of sex trafficking regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion. 

Please help by letting others know that massage parlors and “happy endings” are not a laughing matter and that people who make use of such establishments may be contributing to the crime of human trafficking.

If you suspect that a massage parlor in your area is engaging in such practices please do not hesitate to contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at the above link or by phone 1-888-373-7888
Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist