The city of Edmonton, Canada is considering new rules to regulate erotic massage parlors. These would be some of the first health and safety regulations for erotic businesses in all of Canada.
According to the Edmonton Journal, the proposed regulations would include a mandatory anti-sexual exploitation class for all erotic massage workers, covering topics like human trafficking, and a "sex-industry enforcement team" including police, regulators, and community members. The enforcement team would help determine if massage parlors should be granted business licenses, and withhold them if, for instance, a parlor had incidents of violence. Non-erotic massage parlors would be exempt from many of the new regulations and would pay lower licensing fees.
The new plan could help non-erotic businesses to avoid police checks that are costly and unnecessary — health-based massage therapists argue convincingly that they're not part of the sex industry and have no association with trafficking. And the rules could also help keep people who are employed in erotic professions safe. What's more, they would be a step towards common-sense regulation of sex industries, as opposed to treating all sex workers like criminals. Edmonton City Councillor Ben Henderson says of erotic massage,
If it's going to exist, we need to be able to do what we do with any other business — that it fits in, that it's not causing problems for others, that it's safe. It's a more honest approach than pretending it doesn't exist.
It's also a smarter approach than arresting sex workers and driving their activities underground. Hopefully Edmonton's sane new system will catch on in the rest of Canada — and maybe in the US as well.
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