Licensed massage therapist gives tips on how to spot an illicit massage parlor

MADISON COUNTY, Ala.- The Alabama Attorney General shut down four massage parlors in North Alabama. Officials say the parlors were a front for a human trafficking enterprise.

Gena Rawdon owns Madison School of Massage Therapy and says there are three things people need to watch out for when going to a new place for a massage.

  • Back or side entrance with a lock on the front entrance
  • Parking for customers behind the building or part of a larger parking lot or strip mall
  • Covered or blacked out windows

Rawdon said the average person may not realize that human trafficking could be happening in their own communities. PolarisProject.org is a nationwide resource that helps people better understand how sex trafficking can happen in the massage industry.

"It's certainly not the kind of thing you want in your neighborhood. It's certainly not the thing we want to have to fight against as a legitimate massage therapist," said Rawdon.

Rawdon said she believes these traffickers are getting smarter.

"There may be one or two people at each location that actually are licensed, that did go through a certified massage therapy program and they take those couple of licenses and put them up on the wall and it makes them look legit. So they might actually be doing some legit massages there, but also there may be a certain number of people there who are performing those sex acts," explained Rawdon.

The Alabama Board of Massage Therapy is aware of this issue and has individuals who investigate claims. Rawdon said if you're not sure if a massage business is legitimate, say something.

"If there's any inkling in your mind that something might be going on. I think it's worth it to make that call. It's important that people understand these women doing the sex work are not doing so willingly. Calling the police and having those places shut down is the goal so these women can get to a safe place," Rawdon said.

If you suspect any illicit activity at a massage business, call the Alabama Board of Massage Therapy at 334-420-7233.

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