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Thai massage parlours, offering more than a chance to get the knots out of your back, are being targeted - and the crackdown is proving detrimental to the people working there. The health and safety of workers at illegal massage parlours are especially at risk because they are rarely given condoms - afraid they'll be used by private investigators as "proof" of a "full service". PIs, tasked with getting "services" from non-compliant sex workers, generally use condoms as "evidence".
The hidden sex culture of Australia's Thai massage industry isn't always something the workers immediately embrace. A report by SBS Radio Thai, that will air tonight on Viceland's The Feed, found that Thai women fall into the "extra service" side of massage after being enticed by the extra money. I want to save more money here in order to set up a business back in Thailand," Joy, a year-old Thai masseuse, told SBS.
Joy, whose name has been changed for hide her identity, started out as a legitimate masseuse but found the temptation for extra money was too strong. I asked myself 'why do I have to do this? She also said most people do the job "of their own free will" but not out of want, they do it for the money. Thai massage parlours are increasingly offering a "bare-back" service, which are sexual acts performed without a condom.
Countless websites advertise exactly where customers can get this service in Australia. The websites even list reviews of the women who work there. But it's not just the customers encouraging it - the websites even advertise bareback services. She cried and didn't know what to do. The client didn't care about her at all," Joy told SBS in regards to a friend she knows that has been abused. As local councils and police within each state announce "crackdown" plans on Australia's sex industry, they're having to become increasingly crafty in their methods.
In an interview with The Gold Coast Bulletin last month, a senior police officer said the crackdown on massage parlours hadn't happened "probably because of lack of will". The Gold Coast, the centre of Queensland's party and night-life scene, has one of the highest numbers of illegal massage parlours in Australia. One of the last big citywide raids on the illegal sex trade was in when police raided 50 shops suspected of fronting as therapeutic Asian massage parlours.