Citizens for Justice and Peace

Sex trafficking in American massage parlours is a $2.5 billion industry: Polaris Study

23, Jan 2018 | CJP Team

The Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that, according to a study by anti-slavery organisation Polaris, traffickers make $2.5 billion forcing women to have sex in massage parlours in the United States. The study revealed that these women are usually recent immigrant mothers from China or South Korea who struggle with debt and know little or no English. They are made to work in around 9,000 massage parlours located on highways and behind strip malls in the US. Polaris said it looked at around 3,000 cases and spoke with survivors as well as law enforcement officials. The group said that combating these activities would involve increased awareness of the issue, and the public being educated to recognise signs of illegal activities, such as surveillance cameras, covered windows, and female workers attending to customers at odd hours. “Unfortunately the dominant narrative around this type of trafficking is that it’s all consensual,” Rochelle Keyhan, the study’s lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Polaris said laws applying to massage parlours are rife with loopholes that enable criminal activity. This is the second biggest human trafficking industry in the country, with escort services being the biggest, Polaris’ study said. Globally, human trafficking generates around $150 billion in profits annually, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Around 40 million people are human trafficking victims, of which four million are pushed into sexual exploitation.


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