In recent weeks, the media has focused a lot on the case of the New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, and the charged brought against him for soliciting sex from a prostitute. The charges were part of an investigation by several law enforcement agencies that ended in raids and multiple arrests connected to nearly a dozen businesses in the area.
According to Polaris, “Human trafficking in massage parlors is the second most common type of trafficking reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.” A study done by Polaris in 2018 showed that “there are more than 9,000 illicit massage businesses (IBMs) – fronts for selling commercial sex – spread across every state in the United States. For a sense of scale, consider that Starbucks now has approximately 8,222 company-operated stores in the United States.”
In order to recognize these businesses, one must know the signs that differentiate them from a legitimate massage therapy establishment. The following signs will help one to recognize an illegal massage business.
- Advertised prices are significantly lower than below market level (for instance, $40 for a one-hour massage in a city where $80 is the norm).
- There will often be a back or side entrance to the establishment where clients need to be buzzed in.
- Often covered windows (or no windows at all) and excessive security cameras are present.
- One may notice a steady flow of primarily male clientele at all hours of the day and night.
- One rarely (or never) sees the workers leave the location.
- One can Google the name and location of the business to check if it’s posting sexually-suggestive advertisements online.
The best way to end this form of human trafficking is to pass strong laws across the country that standardize regulations for the massage therapy industry. Presently, 46 states have some regulations for massage therapists, but often the business operation and ownership do not have to follow of set of regulations.