Last week, Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner, was charged with soliciting prostitution from Asian Massage Parlor in Florida. It seems as though the mainstream media want to slaughter Kraft because he is rich and famous, while many average Joes have gone unnoticed. In the meantime, the liberalism widespread in the U.S. has propelled misconceptions of Asian sex-trafficking issues. This is hindering U.S. authorities from addressing the problem more effectively.
Robert Kraft would not be the only wealthy and influential buyer to benefit from Asian sex-trafficking in the U.S. Many other prestigious, otherwise known as respectful members of society have been frequent visitors to Asian massage parlors. Last week, the police officer in Florida arrested John Childs, a billionaire equity firm owner, along with Mr. Kraft. In 2017, Houston police officers performed a sting at a former Asian parlor location. They arrested 139 johns, including an undercover Houston police officer, two attorneys, and a Homeland Security employee working with FEMA. In 2012, Susan Lee Gross was convicted of running Asian parlors providing commercial sex in Virginia. Her sex buyers included military personnel, a local pastor, and a gynecologist.
Liberal media also like to impose their political agenda by describing many Asian women’s experience in U.S. prostitution. They often portray these Asian women as willing participants describing themselves as “sex workers.” Asian sex-trafficking victims in the U.S., however, have diverse backgrounds depending on their cultures. For instance, some Chinese victims were poor and disenfranchised in their countries, whereas many Korean victims are from a middle-class family with a four-year college degree.
In 2009, a survey study by the Korean government stated that 80% of Korean sex-trafficking victims have a two-year college degree or higher. Seventy percent of the women in prostitution are high school graduates. Many young Korean women are lured into prostitution wanting to finance their college tuition and end up being coerced into the sex trade. There is no worse racism toward a sex-trafficking victim than silencing her voice by imposing cultural values and assumptions on her identity.
Both Chinese and Korean women often face socio-economic barriers gainful employment in their countries. These social barriers leave many Asian women vulnerable to sex trafficking around the world. For instance, in 2018, Radio Korea reported a surge of Korean sex-trafficking victims who are lured into the U.S. through a false promise of high-paying job opportunities. In another case in 2018, a Chinese couple forced a young Chinese woman into prostitution after luring her into the U.S. with a tourist visa. They took her passport to ensure her cooperation. In 2016, a Korean nonprofit, E-room, reported interviews with many victims. The women were forced into prostitution around the world, including the U.S. after being lured into a broker’s offer of plastic surgery in exchange for an easy part-time job at a café. In 2015, one 26-year-old woman was coerced into prostitution in the Los Angeles area after entering the U.S. with the promise of a Hollywood actress job.
These Asian women cannot be considered as the same as those Western women who desperately want to legalize prostitution as legitimate work. As such, Asian victims can’t be the reason behind the legalization of prostitution in the U.S.
Whereas many liberals like to use wealthy sex buyers as the scapegoat behind sex-trafficking, the lack of political will and resources behind many law enforcement officers is equally, if not more, to be blamed for the thriving sex-trafficking market for Asian women in the U.S.
Many in law enforcement often focus on investigating massage parlors to fight sex-trafficking of Asian women due to the limited understanding of the Asian sex-trafficking market. However, traffickers have used various brothel models to prostitute young women from Asian countries. In Florida, where Mr. Kraft was charged, young Asian women in their 20s are sold for Girl Friend Experience (GFE) at a residential brothel, a service that prohibits a young woman from using contraceptives during commercial sex. Whereas the average age of women in parlors ranges between the 30s and 50s, young women prostituted in GFE brothels are in their 20s. Hence, the criminals running GFE brothels often profit much more than those running massage parlors.
In 2018, police in Oakland, California arrested multiple individuals for prostitution and drug-related charges in a Chinese karaoke bar. One woman in her early 20s was found and charged with prostitution-related activities during the investigation. In 2012, Chang Young Kim was indicted after prostituting multiple young Korean women in his Room Salon in Seattle. According to the indictment, he encouraged his friend to open a room salon business to profit over $10,000 a month selling each girl for sex.
Whereas many of these brothels advertise themselves online, law enforcement officers rarely investigate these criminals. Even after the arrest, many criminals rarely receive conviction because of the inadequate training available to law enforcement in the U.S.
U.S. lawmakers recently passed a law to spend $430 million to support trafficking victims abroad. In the meantime, many local law enforcement officers continue to face challenges, with limited resources available.
While fighting global trafficking is vital, combating trafficking on U.S. soil needs more support from lawmakers than ever. A Korean government study estimated that a parlor-owner in the U.S. profited approximately $500,000 to $1 million a year in 2009. Asian traffickers often have resources to hire lawyers, accountants, and brokers to stay under the radar. On the other hand, law enforcement officers and nonprofits in the U.S. struggle to counter the traffickers’ tactics because of limited resources. It’s time to take back what we have lost to the criminals.