Shut the Parlors Down

There is a difference between legitimate health spas and whore houses posing as massage parlors. The residents of Dutch Kills and Long Island City have every right to be angry that two alleged houses of prostitution are operating in their neighborhoods pretending to be massage parlors.

Speaking for his constituents, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said what’s allegedly happening at these “massage parlors” is “contrary to everything else that is happening in the Dutch Kills-Long Island City community.”

According to his office, two spas, one on 37th Avenue called Smile Dawa, and another on 38th Avenue called Asian Body Work, are suspected fronts for illegal sex activities.

Smile Dawa was already closed once and an arrest made for solicitation, but the law requires the police to make three citations before an establishment can be permanently closed.

It’s easy to understand why this law would frustrate a community that recognizes that sex parlors have a negative effect on the quality of life in a neighborhood where they are raising their children. Changing the law will take time, but it shouldn’t be difficult for undercover officers to make enough arrests to get the courts to close the parlors down.

This is an abusive business that treats women as sexual objects. In many cases, the women engaged in this business have been brought to this country with false promises of legitimate work. We cannot imagine any parent who would want his or her daughter to get involved in this enterprise.

Community leader George Stamatiades raised the possibility that the johns might get hurt. Too bad.

There is another victim in this. Recently, two attempts to open legitimate, state-of-the-art health spas in College Point faced strong opposition from a misguided community that assumed that all Asian-run spas were fronts for prostitution.

Stamatiades told TimesLedger Newspapers that the spas are “being run out of town from Roosevelt Avenue [in Jackson Heights] and they’re finding small, inexpensive space throughout all the area.”

The police and civic leaders should keep pushing until these businesses wind up in the East River.

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