I don’t know when this topic started interesting me. It really began in June 2004, when my wife and I noticed the proliferation of Asian Spas in Macon. I blogged about it and rather promptly got threatened with a lawsuit for daring to suggest prostitution went on in any of these places.
Then I discovered my email friend Marlene Gaskill who went on a crusade in Gwinnett County against all the little spas that had cropped up. She had approached one and the proprietor would not let her in, telling her it was for men only. From there she got active and Gwinnett passed an ordinance requiring national certification for people who work in spas. A subsequent crackdown drove them out.
And they still proliferate in Macon. Every week there is a new billboard or a new business cropping up. Some may be legitimate, but people who make the libertarian argument (and, as Griftdrift points out, it’s not really a “libertarian argment,” the people just usually claim to be libertarian when they make the argument) that we should leave these places alone because they aren’t harming anyone really should rethink their position.
A 2001 U.S. Department of Justice report on sex trafficking clearly lays out the pattern of these organizations frequently serving as a front for crime. But more disturbing is the high number of women who work in these places as slaves. That’s right — slaves. From the report:
Men from U.S. military bases were frequently mentioned as buyers in the Southeast. Clubs, massage parlors and brothels replicate the sexual rest and recreation (R&R) areas that proliferate near U.S. military bases to serve U.S. servicemen while in countries outside the United States. The military demand for prostitution in the towns and cities surrounding U.S. military bases abroad continues to be responsible for the exploitation, rape and prostitution of impoverished local populations in these areas. This infrastructure and culture are recreated here in the United States, with inordinate numbers of Asian women especially, trafficked and exploited in U.S. massage parlors, strip clubs, bars and brothels surrounding U.S. military bases.
And this isn’t something that is happening on the west coast or New York City. It’s happening in Georgia. A police raid in Clayton County in December found 35 women in 13 spas, all of which are alleged to have been fronting for prostitution. Some of them were illegal aliens and
A few women may have been forced to work against their wills, authorities said.
More disturbingly, despite the closure in December, some of these spas were open again by March and again serving as fronts for prostitution.
And this is happening across the country. San Francisco has become a hotbed of slave trafficking.
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Girls are being forced to come to this country, their families back home are threatened, and they are being raped repeatedly, over and over.”
Because sex trafficking is so far underground, the number of victims in the United States and worldwide is not known, and the statistics vary wildly.
The most often cited numbers come from the U.S. State Department, which estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked for forced labor and sex worldwide each year — and that 80 percent are women and girls. Most trafficked females, the department says, are exploited in commercial sex outlets.
Relying on research from the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department estimates there are 14,500 to 17,500 human trafficking victims brought into the United States each year — but does not quantify how many of those are sex victims.
Even in places like Kansas, women are forced to serve as slaves in brothels.
Authorities rescued 15 women Thursday from Johnson County businesses that an FBI spokesman characterized as massage parlors.
The action came during a daylong crackdown on human trafficking — which prosecutors call “the modern-day form of slavery” — by 175 federal agents, police officers and support staff. The raids hit 12 businesses and four homes, said FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza.
Georgia really should take this problem seriously. It’s not about sex. It’s not about libertine values. It’s about human dignity. It’s about modern day slavery. And it too should be abolished.