It appears Richmond’s unlicensed sex trade is alive and well, if the sordid story from an understandably angry wife is anything to go by.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, contacted the Richmond News with details of how her husband caught a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) after frequenting a city centre massage parlour.
According to the woman, her husband said he knows of many men “who are addicted” to the extracurricular services being offered at the business, which cannot be named for legal reasons.
She told the News that she was glad her husband’s STI made it not further than him, although she wasn’t taking any chances and had banished him to sleeping on their cold, hard floor.
“I still had to get two shots of penicillin in the ass to make sure of that,” she added.
“How many of these girls are there against their will? I'm not sure but it wouldn't surprise me if there might even be a minor or two thrown in the mix. How are these places being overlooked?”
She said that, despite her husband’s admission, he returned to the business for more of the same.
She then marched into the parlour with his photo, demanding that they refuse his patronage in the future.
The woman reported the business to the City of Richmond’s bylaws department, which dispatched officers to investigate.
However, according to city spokesperson Clay Adams, the officers found “no evidence of practice or activity that would contravene the requirements of the business license.”
In March 2020, the News published a feature about the unlicensed sex trade in Richmond, which highlighted that the city’s policies on sex work hadn’t changed in 20 years.
The article pointed out that six “body rub” establishments in Richmond and a quick search on vanpeople.com — a Chinese language website for free classified ads — found dozens of women advertising in Richmond as sex workers.
Coun. Alexa Loo, at the time, wanted the city to look into tightening up the rules surrounding such establishments to make it “as hard as possible” to operate, adding that she didn’t think the city should be supporting human trafficking in Richmond.
And in March of last year, the News reported how a report to Richmond city council on massage parlours has been delayed by more than a year.
Asked this week if she thinks it’s still a problem in Richmond, Loo doesn’t think much has changed in the last two years.
“I think the city does everything it can, as it stands. But technically, we license prostitution here and we’re not the only community to have done it,” she said.
“There is a sense that, in the past, we wanted (sex workers) off the street, so we licensed the (body rubs).
“My concern is still that, in some of these situations, you have women or younger girls that are not from here, so there is trafficking and coercion involved.
“There is an argument that it is a women’s right to do this, ‘it’s a legitimate job,” etc. That’s all very woke, but I’m not sure the people who say that would like their daughter involved in that trade.”
Loo acknowledged that there are many genuine massage parlours in Richmond that are “perfectly legitimate businesses; I’ve been to some of them. They are strictly legitimate, well-priced.
“But (the illegal sex trade) is still clearly happening and will keep on happening. Something has to change. People are still using this service.”
Loo emphasized that human trafficking and coercion is what she’s “most concerned about.”
“What we need to have is more outreach people, offering the women an out, so to speak; an option or other opportunities.
“I’m not here to be the morality police, but I am here to say, I care about young women and girls, and even boys, being trafficked and forced to do this.”
She added that many people in power in Richmond still feel it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to admitting there’s an issue in the city.
Advocacy groups for sex workers previously told the News that they don’t believe that human trafficking is the number one issue facing the trade, which would be better served by making it safer for workers to operate.