Cross massaging: NGO comes out in support of masseuses

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PANAJI: Anyay Rahit Zindagi (ARZ), an NGO, has sought the Health Minister Vishwajit Rane’s intervention in resolving the problems faced by women employees in the massage parlours, on account of cross massaging service.

Stating that cross massaging and commercial sexual exploitation are interlinked, the NGO in a letter to the minister has listed measures that need to be adopted to ensure that cross massage in parlours/spas are controlled.

ARZ is working in Goa towards combating human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation since 1998 and is appointed as nodal NGO of the anti-human trafficking unit by the Goa police.

The NGO in its letter to Rane has said that they have assisted the police in the raids conducted at the massage parlours/spas. In most of the cases rescued girls have reported that parlour owners forced them to do cross massage and for conducting commercial sexual activities at the parlour, ARZ has said. Parlour owners send them to places outside the parlour to provide cross massage services to the clients, refuses to return the passport of the employees and force them to work, ARZ has claimed adding parlour owners do not report cases of sexual harassment by the clients of the female masseur to the police.

According to ARZ, massage parlours/spas in Goa have become a den for commercial sexual activities. In the last eight years (2010 to 2017), Goa police have rescued 683 women from prostitution rackets out of which 171 (134 Indian and 37 foreign nationals) were rescued from massage parlours/spas, ARZ has said.

It has been found during the raids that most of the massage parlours/spas have not been following mandatory provisions laid down in the Goa Public Health (Amendment) Rules, 2010, reads the letter.

The NGO has suggested separate premises (entry and exit) in the parlour/spa for male and female massage, reasoning out that this will help the police and other monitoring agencies to keep a check on cross massage in the parlour.

Most of the massage parlours/spas have female employees, but still most have not constituted sexual harassment committee at workplace, mentions the letter adding sexual harassment committee at workplace with NGO staff as members will help controlling cross massage, sexual harassment and commercial sexual exploitation.

Amendment in the present law as the present penalty for cross massage or violation of provisions laid down in Goa Public Health Act is not deterrent enough to control cross massage, suggests the NGO.

“We are sure that under your leadership, action against the massage parlours/spas providing cross massage services would go a long way in controlling sexual crime against women and girls and controlling trafficking of girls to Goa for commercial sexual exploitation,” ARZ said in the letter to Rane.