Many communities—including local journalists—are surprised when they find out that illicit massage businesses (IMBs) are operating in their area. On the surface, human trafficking situations can be hard to distinguish from nontrafficking cases, and press stories showing and identifying victims as prostitutes can add to victims’ trauma.
In addition, stories focused on the arrests of women in IMBs often miss larger opportunities to 1) investigate and expose the criminal networks that are financially benefiting from trafficking, and 2) share information that can aid the public in speaking up about signs of trafficking close to home. Public education is vital: many law enforcement actions against IMBs are initiated because astute citizens tip the police off to activities that don’t seem legitimate. At The Network, we frequently field calls from reporters to give background and context about trafficking in the illicit massage industry (IMI), because it’s our mission to defeat trafficking in this industry. We would like to share some of this information with a broader media audience, so that you have it on hand when relevant news breaks near you.