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Will Closing Massage Parlors and Spas Throughout the State Curb Sex Trafficking and Prostitution? Some Experts Say No


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Some advocates warn closing massage parlors could make it more dangerous for sex workers. Photo: National Human Trafficking Hotline

Some advocates warn closing massage parlors could make it more dangerous for sex workers. Photo: National Human Trafficking Hotline

Two Orange County massage parlors have been shut down in connection with the statewide sex trafficking and prostitution sting that netted New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Some advocates warn closing massage parlors could make it more dangerous for sex workers.

The investigation led by the Vero Beach Police Department shuttered East Spa in Winter Park and Rainbow Spa in Orlando. Police arrested five workers and put out warrants for two others.

But Sex Workers Outreach Project organizer Alex Andrews says closing these massage parlors will only drive prostitution underground.

“And make it more dangerous for sex workers to verify and vet clients to make sure they’re not meeting up with someone who is violent.”

Andrews says it also makes it harder to find and identify victims of sex trafficking.

That’s why her organization advocates for the decriminalization of sex work.

“It does not protect pimps or traffickers. What it does is decriminalizes and de-stigmatizes the profession so that when someone does have crimes committed against them they are free to report.”

Two Orlando women-49-year-old Lanyun Ma and 27-year-old Yaping Ren-were arrested on charges related to prostitution. Ma was also charged with human trafficking.

If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 24-7 days at week at 1 (888) 373-7888.

If you’d like to listen to the full story, please click on the clip above.


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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

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Danielle Prieur grew up listening to her grandfather’s stories of swimming across the Detroit River from Canada and many other adventures. She’s been into storytelling ever since. She studied writing at the University of Michigan. She trained in public radio at WDET’s Detroit newsroom, and is really excited ... Read Full Bio »

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