DULUTH, MN– The Duluth City Council will consider tightening license requirements for massage therapists and facilities next week in an effort to protect against prostitution and sex trafficking.
The proposal comes after two people were arrested and charged last month in connection with alleged sex trafficking at several Twin Ports massage parlors.
Northeast Regional Navigator for Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assualt or PAVSA, Mel Valar says, “trafficking has been happening in our community since the beginning of its existence.”
According to the language of the ordinance, massage facilities’ hours of operation would be limited to normal business hours. They would also be required to have only one client entrance, which would have to be kept unlocked during business hours.
Alvar says, “the police are being trained better on investigating these things. The public is being trained better on how to identify it and report it.”
As for education requirements, massage therapists would have to submit an official school transcript, proving that they have completed 500 hours of massage therapy education, in order to receive a city license.
“Requiring an official transcript will protect the health and safety of patrons by ensuring that massage therapists have completed the requisite educational requirements,” according to the Duluth City Council agenda.
License applicants would have to undergo a national criminal history background check. The transfer of licenses would also be regulated.
While Alvar believes ordinances should be in place, she feels it won’t put much of a dent in the illegal business market. “If we have these ordinances, I think they’ll probably just move to a different area.” “I don’t necessarily think, unfortunately, that it’s going to lower the rate of it happening just in Duluth in general.”
The Duluth City Council is set to read-in the ordinance for the first time Monday. Councilors could vote as early as May.