Behind closed doors: collateral damage
by Nick Delgado
Over the last week KUAM News has brought you a series of reports that have let the eerie glow of the red light shine on Guam's underground prostitution industry. Our reports have been equal parts shocking and suggestive, exhibiting a problem that evidently everyone knows of, and yet one that no one seemingly wants to do anything about.
The last installment of our special investigative series looks at the collateral damage caused by these provocative operations on their neighboring businesses.
While it's clear that island leaders have been turning a blind eye when it comes to prostitution happening inside these massage parlors, it's now not only a problem that legitimate massage establishments have to pay for as a result of operating a mirror-like business. But it's a problem for other local shops who continue to see these brothels erect throughout our island.
While we have seen what happens inside many massage parlors that have been on Guam for decades - operating illegally - some local business owners are frustrated that nothing is being done to rid the island of these establishments. In fact, they're growing significantly as there are nearly 100 that have received licenses from the Department of Public Health. Some say it's clear what's happening at many of these massage parlors.
"I'm kind of upset because I know that these kinds of places are not necessary as legitimate as they pretend to be," said one female business owner that asked not to be identified. "It's just common knowledge here on Guam that places like that that call themselves 'massage parlors' are actually a front for something else."
And the business owner is not alone when it comes to concerns about the massage parlor that is slated to open near hers. She fears the type of environment and crowd it will bring to the area. While the owner of the new parlor told KUAM News that she will only have body oil massage services, she also says that they will only be open late at night.
Julie Manglona, regional vice-president of Mandara Spa Micronesia, said, "By law, massage therapy rooms can't be locked and in some of those rooms they have locks on them. So that's one. Another thing is it's the time they say that there in operations or the time of night. When their still in operations well passed the entertainment night of waking ours or passed midnight."
Manglona. She says while her massage business has been on Guam for 11 years and operates a legitimate massage company, she said the undercover sex trade still paints a bad picture for heer industry altogether. She added, "Who's going to regulate them? Who's going to wake up a two 'o clock in the morning and enforce these establishments? Because all the legitimate ones are closed by 11 o' clock and I think that's what our shortcomings are on island."
Julie is also aware of recent legislation that would help to regulate the massage world, but she says the bill is only as good as it's enforced.
And so the problem will continue and these massage parlors will continue to offer sex for money until the government decides to take action. Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco, meanwhile, stresses that her office is working with other entities to put an end to what we found during our investigation.
"We are trying to bring this to an end in terms of getting proposed legislation drafted and we do understand that there are certain legislators who are going to be very supportive of this," Limtiaco stated. "There have been some discussion about different information that has been put forward whether it be to the Guam Police Department to our office or to the Department of Public Health so we are looking at all of that information that would have some involvement and impact on the establishment of this task force."
The AG added that there are stiff penalties for those who are caught involved in sex, labor, and human trafficking.