Central Valley Justice Coalition has been moving forward to address an issue that has been on our hearts and minds and drawing boards for sometime- human trafficking hidden behind the doors of illegitimate massage parlors.
Within our community are many legitimate, skilled massage practitioners offering important beneficial therapeutic services. We want these businesses to thrive in their part in bringing wellness.
However, there are also businesses under the name “massage,” whose aim is not wellness, but profit through exploitation of their workers. These businesses entice the women, who come from other countries under false pretenses of promises of a job in the U.S.
Most often, a girl arrives from a foreign country with little, aside from a work visa, hope for a better future, and poor understanding of the English language. She may immediately apply for amnesty, but the process to attain this is a relatively slow one and requires an amount of money she is unlikely to possess (in the thousands.) This makes her an easy target for sex-traffickers who advertise in publications that are distributed in U.S. cities. These ads give the promise of easy work and comfy accomodations which lure the unsuspecting girls to cities such as Fresno. (of course, transportation is provided by the ‘do-gooders’.)
Then the exploitation, humiliation, threats of shame and violence begins.
Once they are brought to the massage parlors, they are compelled to work, and for the most part, the work includes providing sexual services for their customers in addition to forced labor doing massage. The women are either directly or indirectly demanded to perform sexual acts for their customers. Even among those given an option to decline, they may comply in in order to make enough money in hopes of survival outside the walls of their prison one day.
The women are paid very little money and are refused the option to leave their job. This refusal, and the demand to work, is backed up by withheld identification documents and visas, threats that law enforcement would arrest and mistreatment them, threats that they will be harmed, threats that their family would be shamed and/or their families would be harmed, the actual use of force, and physical, emotional, and mental harm. They also face the fact they are in a strange country with little or no English language skills, no resources, no understanding of the laws, no one to go to for help and to start a new life. They are required to pay for their housing and meals out of their meager pay. They eat, sleep, and work in the same building and are not allowed to leave the premises.
This is not just a “possible” situation in Fresno. There are already numerous documented cases by the Fresno Police Department, who have been actively working on effective law enforcement.
Here are some “Statistic Snapshots” from the forefront human trafficking organization, Polaris Project:
* “Johns” who frequent brothels disguised as massage parlor make it a “hobby” to buy sex and to track all massage parlors nationwide. There are more than 5,000 brothels disguised as massage parlors nationwide.
* Standard pricing structure: Johns pay a house fee of $60 – $90 per half hour or hour plus they occasionally pay tips; the women are pressured to “please the customer” in order to receive tips. These unpredictable tips are the women’s sole source of income to pay the numerous fees and interest rates they are charged by the network.
* Standard day for a woman in a brothel disguised as a massage parlor: 10am – 2 or 3am, 7 days a week
* Estimated average number of men a woman must have sex with daily: 6 -10
As bad as all this is, this is not the extent of the injustice done to the women, as well as to all those affected. For one, everyday in these businesses means that each woman’s identity, giftings, potential, and dreams are be suppressed.
On top of that, almost always the women do not realize that they are human trafficking victims (see “What Is Human Trafficking?”). This adds difficulty to the task of helping them, because police officers cannot respond to them as victim, if the women do not report themselves as victims, and the police cannot tell the women that they are victims. As victims of human trafficking, victims are not culpable for the activities they have been compelled to do by force, fraud, or coercion. Often, if women do not report themselves as victims, however, police have little choice but to arrest or cite them for the apparent crimes they see.
So what are we doing? We have been helping bring the issue to light. We know that there has been a growing concern from the community and we are partnering with law enforcement to educate the community.
We have also been working with local authorities to get an ordinance developed, approved, and implemented in the City of Fresno. The ordinance will serve to strengthen laws for businesses that provide massage services, in order to provide deterrents and legal ramifications for sex and labor trafficking in illegitimate massage parlors.
Actually, that’s one of the areas where we need your help.
What You Can Do
The Central Valley Justice Coalition is holding informational meeting concerning human trafficking in massage parlors on August 4 and August 13.
Our informational meetings will provide information about human trafficking in the massage parlors, and proposed actions to provide deterrents and greater legal action against this activity.ommunity. FPD Sergeant Chastaine from the Central Valley Human Trafficking Task Force will be giving a presentation along with representatives form the Central Valley Coalition.
Information on the meetings are as follows:
Thursday, August 4, 12:00 p.m., Fresno First Baptist Church parlor room, 1400 E Saginaw Way, Fresno 93704.
Saturday, August 13, 9:00 a.m. Fresno Pacific University BC Lounge.
(These meetings are identical in content, so it is only necessary to attend one meeting.)
Please RVSP with the date you intend to attend at email@example.com.
We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word to others and inviting people to attend one of the meetings.
We also need support in prayer. We ask you to intercede for the work to end human trafficking in massage parlors, those being oppressed, which includes both the women and those involved in the trade, our law enforcement, our local leaders, including our councilmen and mayor, our community, and the Central Valley Justice Coalition. See our prayer guide for some tips.
Contact us if you would like to support the work of CVJC at 725-1865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information by Polaris Project on Asian Massage Parlors.