Battling sex trafficking in massage parlors

MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - The Moline City Council has unanimously approved a proposed new ordinance that will require massage establishments in the city to be licensed and comply with a massage establishment code in order to help prevent human trafficking.

The code includes requirements such as the massage therapist wearing professional clothing, the parlor using normal business hours, and having "sanitary" conditions. Other communities in Illinois with similar licensing include Chicago, Rockford, and McHenry.

Mayor Stephanie Acri said that, "one of the main benefits is to help control human trafficking. It's kind of a hot spot of flowing human trafficking in our community. And the therapists I've spoken with are wholly supportive of it because there's a big misunderstanding as to what a massage means and what happens in their establishments, so this will help clarify."

"Now in Moline we have a lot of great massage therapists throughout the city and they do an amazing job. But unfortunately these unscrupulous people use them as fronts to get them through the sex trade. So we're working towards figuring out a way that we could strike a good balance between the legitimate great massage therapists in Moline while also keeping out and regulate/prohibit the bad ones from coming in" explained Mike Wendt, the 3rd Ward Alderman who came up with the idea after hearing a podcast about sex trafficking in the Midwest.

Acri also added, "The victims of human trafficking that go through these establishments are our most vulnerable victims and I feel like we do have a responsibility to keep them in our interest and use every tool available to help support their freedom from that."

The code will be regulated by the health officer of the City of Moline, who also regulates other businesses such as body art parlors.

Clinton is also proposing a similar regulation.