How to End Sex Trafficking in Massage Parlors in Your Community

This is part two of an interview with Jessica Goodman, a student activist at
Carnegie Mellon University who is doing research on anti-trafficking issues and
helping rally support for a proposal that would help end sex trafficking in Pittsburgh
massage parlors. Here, Goodman outlines how you can get a similar ordinance
passed in your own community. To read part one, click

1) Investigate. Read through the johns’ boards; see how many
massage parlors are in your area. Making a map helps; ours was color-coded by
city council district to make it easy for people to see how close these places
are to our homes and schools. Be warned: these boards can be extremely graphic
and disturbing.

2) Identify. Look for the best person or office to introduce
the ordinance. Perhaps your county has more investigative powers than your city;
maybe your state house is the best place to look. Ending human trafficking is a
non-partisan issue, so feel free to look for supporters from outside of your own
experience. We have received wonderful support from the religious community in
Pittsburgh, including Sister Jeanette Bussen, a local nun and anti-trafficking
activist who I would never have met without this work.

3) Instigate. Start drumming up community support. Ask to
talk for 15 minutes at the ends of college clubs’ meetings, present to church
groups and contact local fraternal organizations. Ask local massage therapists
if they know where illegitimate establishments are located; because johns
sometimes confuse good businesses with places to buy sex, some massage
therapists have been sexually harassed by them. These places are deeply embedded
in our communities — in Pittsburgh, not one of the 15 brothels posing as
massage parlors is more than a few blocks from a church, synagogue or mosque. It
is an issue on everyone’s plate, whether we know it or not.

Once you have the knowledge, the institutional and the community support, you
may need to address the concerns of local business owners, consult law
enforcemen and make sure that your case is as solid as possible. And ask for
help — the Project to End Human Trafficking and I are committed to getting this
passed in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. If you live in Pittsburgh, please consider
volunteering for or donating to the Project to End Human Trafficking
or handwriting a letter of support to Mayor Ravenstahl.

I am a bit of a policy wonk, so my first reaction to a new issue is to do
research. For me, reading through all of the materials put out by the National
Human Trafficking Resource Center, calling the National Human Trafficking
Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 for information on anti-trafficking organizations in
my area and reading the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report
gave me enough of a foundation to form an opinion about how to best combat
trafficking in Pittsburgh.

If you are better with counseling than I am, volunteer to work with
survivors. It can be satisfying work, if not always fun. If you only have a
little time, consider writing a paper on trafficking. I bet you $10 donated to
your favorite anti-trafficking organization, I can take any term-paper topic and
find a way to make it about ending trafficking. Seriously. Email me.

The most important thing any student can do is to learn the signs of human
trafficking. Confinement, abuse, debt-bondage, threats, minors in commercial
sex, adults in jobs they can’t leave — these are things anyone can see anytime
and report to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888). The call
specialists keep track of all of the tips they receive and pass them on to law
enforcement. Together, we can end sex trafficking in our communities.