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Archive for January 29th, 2015

I’m extremely curious about Asian massage parlors; the media portrays these businesses as pure human trafficking operations, in the sense that the girls are essentially indentured servants who are brought to this country in debt and pressed to work off the debt without any hope of actually doing so.  What is the truth of the situation? 

Asian massage parlorThere are several different ways that Asian women come to the US to work; the most common is via family connections, as is the case with restaurants, nail parlors and other Asian-owned businesses.  Some women do indeed borrow heavily to migrate, but the “indentured servitude” aspect is exaggerated and mischaracterized.  First of all, few of them are trapped in the slave-like conditions of police and media wanking fantasies; it’s just that they have debts to pay and want to pay them as soon as possible rather than letting them drag out for years and years as many Americans are wont to do.  Far from being passive “victims” who are “brought” to the US like cargo, these are young women who took stock of their situations at home and decided that moving to the US was worth the debt and hardship.

Next, there is no moral difference between a sex worker taking out a loan to emigrate to a wealthier country and a student taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans  – except that the former has a guaranteed job and the latter doesn’t.  Here’s another comparison: poor people who take out high-interest “payday loans” because they can’t get better deals from somewhat-less exploitative finance companies or regular banks.  It’s absolutely true that sometimes migrants are tricked into worse deals than they expected, but as anyone with poor credit can tell you the exact same thing is true of American financing deals, which can sometimes result in paying back many times the sum that was borrowed and carry a bewildering load of unfair and excessive fines and penalties.

Lastly, the reason these girls go into debt is that immigration into Western countries is incredibly expensive now, and the reason for that is the “authorities” have erected so many barriers to it; many thousands in fees, bribes, permits, paperwork and other squeeze is required to get into the US, and that money has to come from somewhere.  If US authorities really wanted to “combat human trafficking”, they would remove all artificial barriers to immigration…but that would stop the flow of lovely money to the politicians and corporations who profit from the restriction of international travel for work.  Forget all the nonsense about gangster “traffickers”; these crony capitalists – and the police departments who receive huge “sex trafficking” grants to harass them and rob their businesses – are the real “pimps” who profit from the labor of migrant sex workers.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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