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Human Trafficking and Massage Parlors

By May 24, 2016December 16th, 2019Student Staff
Moriah Schmidt, Class of 2018
What do you think of when you see a massage parlor? Hot rocks? Relaxation? Spa days? Human trafficking?

Odds are, human trafficking is not what jumps to the forefront of your mind when you see a massage parlor. The stark reality is that these places are a top spot for human trafficking legal or illegal immigrants, many of whom cannot speak English and have no way of escaping this unwelcome lifestyle. This issue has touched the Hampton Roads area, with arrests being made on human trafficking counts from raids at massage parlors just this year. I had the privilege of working on a project with the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative which evaluated the laws and ordinances of the seven cities in the Hampton Roads area to determine what measures they are taking to crack down on human trafficking at massage parlors.

The good news is, some of the seven cities have good ordinances made to ensure that massage parlors are being operated safely and humanely, for appropriate purposes. If more cities took it upon themselves to update their zoning ordinances and local laws to provide stricter regulations for massage parlors, we would be taking steps in the right direction.

However, this is a problem not likely to go away even with stricter regulations. In my home state of Ohio, human trafficking at massage parlors has been recently discovered as a prevalent monstrosity. Raids have become commonplace. Many people are shocked to find that trafficked people have been trapped in their hometowns, sometimes just down the street or across the road. Ohio’s law enforcement has realized that even when catching traffickers and shutting down massage parlors in one place, they just spring up someplace new with a slightly different name. We cannot just force these places closed and end this trade by mere efforts. This evil requires something more.

As Christians, we have a major weapon in prayer. We can attack this battle in the place where it really originates – the spiritual realm.

I believe an Ohio detective said it best:

“In order to attack demand, you’re going to have to attack a culture and society in terms of how women are viewed and how prostitution is viewed. When we start to do that, that’s when it’ll start to change.”

The Center for Global Justice works alongside organizations like Virginia Beach Justice Initiative in researching laws and ordinances to see where the law can change in order to fight against atrocities like human trafficking. But one thing we can all do – and must do – is pray. This is more than a legal battle. It’s a cultural battle, a spiritual battle, and a battle with our human nature. But by the strength of God, nothing is impossible. We can win this war.

(Sources and quotes from “The Stubborn Cycle of Human Trafficking” The Columbus Monthly, Justin McIntosh, May 2015,

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.