Human Trafficking and Illicit Massage Businesses
A few months ago the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSBM) put out a task force report on Human Trafficking in illicit massage establishments (IM’s for short), however, there was some controversy within the massage community that some of their proposed solutions included regulations that would impact legitimate massage establishments.
You can read their full report here: https://www.fsmtb.org/media/1606/httf-report-final-web.pdf
The proposed suggestions that concerned various massage agencies include the following statements:
Evaluate the possibilities of a uniform, national accrediting body for massage therapy schools and programs.
Create a work group to study the efficacy of massage establishment regulation and serve as an informational resource for state boards on this subject.
Continue to develop its Massage Therapy Licensing Database (MTLD).
Amend the Model Practice Act to include a representative with a background in human trafficking to the composition of member boards.
Regularly report as much information as possible to the FSMTB Massage Therapy Licensing Database (MTLD) and query MTLD for every applicant and licensee as frequently as necessary for regulatory purposes.
Advocate to ensure its state school oversight mechanism includes programmatic or specialized approval review and a capacity to conduct follow up audits on the performance of massage therapy and/or massage and bodywork schools to ensure each school is meeting standards.
Encourage or require training of their massage board members and staff, in human trafficking, and familiarize themselves with human trafficking initiatives within their jurisdiction, state and federal laws, any current legislation on human trafficking, and other available resources.
Discuss the possibility of implementing massage establishment regulation, after the recommended Federation work group studying the efficacy of massage establishment regulations issues a report.
As you can see the FSMTB’s suggestions contain enacting changes to massage education and regulation in the hopes of stopping a problem that has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate massage establishments and could place an unintended burden upon our industry.
The Associated Body work and Massage Professional and The American Massage Therapy Association responded…
A link to the full response: ABMP & AMTA Response to FSMTB’s Report
The FSMTB is straying far from its mission in this report. It ignores readily available data from law enforcement and implies, wrongly in our opinion, that the massage therapy profession is responsible for ending human trafficking. AMTA and ABMP oppose the premise of the report. We reject both the misinformation it conveys and its perceptions about the responsibilities of the massage therapy profession.
Polaris, “A leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery” has issued its full report…
You can read the full report here: Human Trafficking in Illicit Massage Business
I encourage you to read the full report to get a better understanding of how wide spread this issue is and how the problem with human trafficking does not simply begin and end with the massage establishments but include an entire network of organized deception and cohesion.
The following is a brief summary of the solutions proposed by Polaris (please read the full report for details on these suggestions.)
SOLUTION: Require transparency in business registration
Supporting Effective, Survivor-Centered Law Enforcement
Adopt an organized-crime approach, shift to increasing pressure on buyers by doing demand stings
Build networks of anti-trafficking law enforcement, code enforcement, and prosecutorial professionals
Closing Loopholes In The Commercial Real Estate Industry
Landlords can take responsibility to ensure human trafficking is not happening on their rental properties, and cities can leverage nuisance abatement laws to address those who do not.
Ending Online Practices That Legitimize Illicit Massage Businesses
Online review and “deal” sites should screen for IMBs
Shifting the Media Narrative to Increase Public Understanding, Decrease Public Tolerance
Media outlets must create policies to protect potential victims, and law enforcement must carefully frame press releases
Working Together to Ensure Victims Receive Robust, Culturally-Competent Services
Nationwide safety net: Key pieces of this coalition safety net include: • Culturally humble, trauma-informed interpreters• Attorneys• Job training
Polaris offers a more inclusive solution
Instead of focusing only on how the massage establishment can enact changes to help regulate IM’s by putting further regulations on the massage industry alone Polaris offers solutions that offer a focus ranging from public awareness, business compliance, a shifting of the media focus, as well as victim support and job training.
There is so much more that I would like to discuss about the Polaris report. Once again I highly encourage you to read the full report.
Yours in Health and Wellness,