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Sending a message to Warren massage parlors that go too far

Published: Mon, January 9, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

A website that keeps track of such things as massage parlors that traffic in sex says Ohio has 23 such establishments. Ten of them are in Warren.

That explains why a number of community groups in the city and the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative are pushing legislation that would regulate massage parlors in Warren.

The MVOC refers to the massage parlors as “brothels,” but proving that contention would require local police departments or the office of the Ohio attorney general to launch undercover operations. And while prostitution is illegal in the state of Ohio, it has not, at least in recent tradition, been a high priority for enforcement.

That is not to say, however, that there isn’t enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that the city has an interest in codifying reasonable regulations for massage parlors.

What the MVOC and others are suggesting is a requirement of 100 hours of certified education for massage parlor employees. That’s far less training than is required of practitioners of medical massage, or, for that matter, what is required for the man or woman who cuts your hair.

The proposed legislation would also limit operations to something less than 24 hours a day, and would require insurance, inspections and certification that employees have valid immigration papers.

Immigration issue

That last part has less to do with any anti-immigration fever and more to do with a contention that many women who are working in massage parlors are actually victims of human trafficking. That is, they are brought to this country — legally or illegally — and are coerced into working in massage parlors to repay the cost of getting them here.

The campaign against massage parlors is being pursued by people who believe that rampant prostitution has a deleterious effect on an area’s stability and economy. And by an ecumenical coalition that finds it morally reprehensible. But indentured servitude is decidedly un-American, and if it is being practiced in the sex business, it would offend even those of a libertarian bent.

The MVOC and the Mahoning Valley Rescue and Restore Coalition are sponsoring a film festival during Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The first was Saturday at Living Lord Lutheran Church in Howland. The others are: Jan. 15, Blessed Sacrament Church in Warren; Jan. 21, Niles First United Methodist Church, and Jan. 28, at Kilcawley Center on the Youngstown State University campus.

MVOC is sponsoring a rally to gather support for a proposed Warren ordinance at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the YWCA on North Park Avenue. City Council is expected to take up the legislation at its Jan. 25 meeting.

Niles attempted to legislate massage parlors out of business two decades ago, but it overreached, and its law was overturned in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. Warren has the authority to enact reasonable regulations to protect public health and safety and to enforce laws prohibiting prostitution. But it can’t — and shouldn’t — pursue draconian measures that would be overturned in court.


1Muskiemouth(17 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Can we talk? Men's sex drive is greater than women's. This no-brainer is not acted upon, as it should be, for the benefit of society. The ancient Greeks discussed this in drama, and it remains true today, but such a basic difference between the sexes is not mentioned today or taken into account except by advertizing. Maybe it's time. Since before the ancient Greeks, sexually frustrated males have commonly caused trouble of various kinds, from incivility to worse. Society is better off if there is some working safety valve for that frustration. Sexual prostitution seen in that light might be something other than a moral failing. It could be seen as compassionate and intelligent. Legalizing and organizing such would tend to end sexual slavery as well.

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2NoTraffickingWantedHere(5 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Really, Mouth? Seriously? Am I to conclude from your comments that, without prostitutes as an outlet for men's sexual appetites, you would all go around raping women in the street because you don't have the self control to keep it in your pants?

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3Muskiemouth(17 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I guess we can't talk. What a crude and skewed interpretation of what I said. Discuss the idea, don't turn it nasty just because you don't like the idea.

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4doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I don't believe this human trafficking allegation against the spas. I thought that every spa worker has to be licensed by the city and the city health department visits the spas randomly once a month. If anything funny is going on don't you think they would have caught them?

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5NoTraffickingWantedHere(5 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Doowop, if you go into a room looking for rabbits, you aren't going to find it if the room is full of turtles. You only find what you are looking for.

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6doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I was under the impression that each and every spa employee had to obtain a license with photo id. Are you saying the health department is only concerned with license fees and they do not check the backgrounds of spa workers?

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7Silence_Dogood(1603 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

With any luck we will have a "happy ending."

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8NoTraffickingWantedHere(5 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Doowop, I do believe that is the case. I heard (from a reliable source) that one applicant had a felony conviction, but over it was stamped "approved".

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9NoTraffickingWantedHere(5 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Muskie, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you. I'm afraid I've gotten very cynical after reading many really tasteless comments about human trafficking articles.

Unfortunately, records show that there is just as much trafficking in areas where prostitution is legal as there is where it is illegal.

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10Superman(31 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Are you people so naive as to believe that prostitution isn't occurring at these parlors? Most of the masseuses at the Oriental ones can barely speak English, of course they are trafficked. My guess is certain connected "businessmen" own these things and make a ton of money that gets kicked back to some to look the other way. That's the only way they can continue to operate unabated.

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11Muskiemouth(17 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

As this article shows, what we have today is not working at all, so why not try something different? What's that quote about doing the same thing all the time and expecting different results? NoTraffickingWantedHere, Thanks, I'm not familiar with those studies, I'll look for them. I don't think that legalized prostitution would end child sex crimes and rape, as samlam suggests, but it seems reasonable to expect they would be lessened. Trafficking, like many illicit activities, might be ineradicable but we have to try, don't we?

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