The massage and escort industries are multi-billion dollar businesses. In the United States, there are approximately 9,000 such parlors. The epicenter of this illicit industry is the bustling Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. Women from China, India, and other countries often arrive by plane and are recruited through social networks such as WeChat.
The typical customer pays between $60 and $200 for an hour-long massage, manual release, and intercourse in CityVibe. The erotic massage industry has become a major part of American culture, touching nearly every socio-economic group. For example, former New England Patriots quarterback Robert Kraft was caught at a massage parlor in Florida and accused of soliciting prostitution. However, after apologizing publicly, the charges against him were eventually dropped last fall.
While the Urban Institute study does not support this notion, federal agencies paint a different picture of the massage industry. According to a retired law enforcement agent, erotic massage businesses are operated by organized crime networks. Despite their illegality, these businesses have been a good way for immigrants to earn a better income. Many low-income women can’t get a high-paying job in nail salons or restaurants. The illicit massage industry provides a better way for these women to support themselves.
The illicit massage industry is notorious for its high rates of sexual assault. Many women working in this industry are undocumented, so they are afraid to report abuse for fear of deportation. In one study, nearly 40% of participants reported that they had been raped on the job.
These women are often under enormous debt and may be exploited by labor traffickers and loan sharks. Their job requirements are vague and often include sexual services for as many as a dozen men a day. They may also be deprived of the basic necessities, such as condoms and food.