In the next few months, I’d like to discuss an issue that I find horrifying. It has been on my mind for some time now. It’s a crisis and it’s unfortunately linked to massage therapy. Therefore, I feel like it’s my duty as a trained massage therapist—and a concerned individual—to talk about it here. I’m talking about the tragedy of human trafficking, and it’s a problem that occurs in our own communities.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking can be accurately described as a form of modern-day slavery. Preying upon the most vulnerable in our society, traffickers use force, manipulation, coercion and fraud to enslave victims into a life of commercial sex work.
It is horrifying that The International Labor Organization estimates that there are:
- 20.9 million people are victims globally
- 5.5 million victims are children
- Over half are women and girls (55%)
It’s so easy to not think about the millions of victims in these situations as we go about our daily lives. The statistics are terrifying. It’s not just the sheer number of victims—one of them could easily be your next door neighbor. Our neighborhoods in suburban America are not immune to this problem.
Massage Therapy & Human Trafficking
Throughout the United States and the rest of the world, fake massage businesses are one of the many types of businesses that serve as a front for human trafficking.
Usually, a “massage parlor” will be nothing more than a front for a brothel, where young women (particularly immigrants who have been lured into this work because of desperation, vulnerability, debt and promises of legitimate work) are forced to participate in unspeakable acts against their will…and with no way out.
When people first learn what I do, some will make a nudge-nudge, wink-wink sort of joke at the expense of not only my profession, but the unfortunate reality for perhaps hundreds of thousands of women who are human trafficking victims. This link between massage therapy and human trafficking is disturbing to me as both a human being and as a massage therapist.
What You Can Do to Fight Human Trafficking
My two years of massage therapy training consisted of many different classes, from basic anatomy to hands-on modalities. We were trained to understand the human body and to promote healing, health and well-being. How shameful that a profession that seeks to do good is this world is tainted by the evil of human trafficking.
Unfortunately, never once in all of those classes did we discuss the problem of human trafficking and its connection to the world of massage therapy. Now I want to do something to fight it. I am now determined to make a difference by being observant, creating awareness, and donating to the organizations that fight this global problem and help its victims.
Will You Join Me in Fighting Human Trafficking?
There are ways to fight human trafficking, with plenty of resources available to educate yourself or provide assistance to someone who is the victim of human trafficking. Some ways to get started are:
I’ll be discussing in more detail ways to help in forthcoming posts, but this is a great way to begin! The best thing we can do is to no longer ignore this crisis or shrug it off as a joke. We must take action and be agents of change. Especially as massage therapists, the time is now to stop human trafficking forever, and promote the dignity of every human being as our profession has trained us to do.