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Letter to City of Richmond: Massage Parlours promote racism, sexism, and violence against women

Updated: Feb 13

February 11, 2024


Mayor and Council

City of Richmond

911 No. 3 Road, Richmond,

British Columbia, V6Y 2C1


Dear Mayor and Council,


RE: Massage Parlours 


Thank you for recognizing the dangerous impact of ignoring the criminal and violent activity happening in Asian-themed (and other) massage parlours, body rubs, fake nail and beauty salons.


On December 6, 2014, Canada modernized our criminal laws to recognize prostitution as a danger to women’s racial and sexual equality. The law refocuses criminal justice attention onto pimps, prostitution promoters and sex buyers. Under our laws, the men who choose to buy sex are committing crimes. Also under the law, the women in the massage parlours and other prostitution venues are not criminalized in recognition of the huge power imbalance between the marketer/manager/buyer and the sold.


These businesses are actually criminalized activity under Canada’s laws. However, the law is undermined when cities choose to grant licenses. A business license shows women in the massage parlours that the law is on the side of the exploiters. A license also gives organized crime cover for illicit activity. We urge Richmond city councillors to refuse to be complicit in a racist and sexist system that targets Asian women for organized sexual exploitation. 


Asian Women for Equality urges Richmond city council to stop issuing licenses for these so-called businesses. We also call on you to support police investigations into these venues as sites of human-trafficking, male violence against women and money laundering. At the very least, the people who operate and visit these venues are exploiting women’s poverty and unequal social status to give men access to sex on demand.


Asian Women for Equality also encourages Richmond city councillors to increase your impact against pimps, human traffickers and sex buyers by working with women’s equality groups to develop a public education campaign about Canada’s  laws around prostitution. Immigrant and migrant women need to 

know the truth about their rights and the Canadian justice system, especially about prostitution. They should not have to rely on pimps, sex buyers and prostitution industry advocates for information and guidance about the law or what police are empowered to do. 


Asian Women for Equality provides information, advocacy, and support to women. Our goals are to foster community and connection among women of Asian descent and create opportunities for Asian women to have meaningful participation in and to take leadership roles in civil society. As feminists, we work to advance equality for women, particularly Asian women and women of Asian descent. 


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