The Tribune Star published this letter to the editor by Alex Trouteaud, our director of public policy and research, on July 12, 2017.
If you really want to solve the problem of massage brothels, hold the sex buyers accountable.
Lisa Trigg’s July 6 article, “Four face prostitution charges after months-long investigation,” highlights an important problem facing cities across the country, including Terre Haute: modern-day brothels poorly disguised as “massage” parlors. Real people’s lives are at stake. According to Polaris, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, “the average illicit massage business has two to three women being forced to provide commercial sex inside.” Most victims don’t disclose the true story until they’ve received weeks — and sometimes months — of restorative services.
Unfortunately, despite an 11-month investigation, it appears the real culprits have gotten away: the men sneaking to these brothels to buy sex illegally. It’s simple economics. Sex buyers are the “demand” that drives the underground market; their behavior poisons communities, destroys families, and harms vulnerable women and girls.
We are thankful that local law enforcement wants to combat prostitution, but the right way to do it is to go after the buyers, who are the root of the problem. Members of our CEASE network (Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation), which is comprised of pioneering law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and technologists, are working across the U.S. to end sex trafficking and forced prostitution by focusing on reducing demand for commercial sex.
The tipster whose complaint apparently started the investigation was on to something when “she was upset her husband was patronizing ‘The Satisfying Massage Parlor.’” Hopefully next time, law enforcement will hold people like her husband accountable.
Read the letter on the Tribune Star’s website.