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Ever heard of the "happy ending'" massage? It is a common phrase at massage parlours offering sexual services, and they are not hard to find in Australia. The industry is full of especially Asian female migrants and international students, lured by the promise of easy money to provide massage with "extra" services. But they are often left to fend for themselves, in terms of their workplace rights, safety and health. Massage parlours offering sexual services are not hard to find.
There are online adult forums, where clients leave comments and write reviews of their experiences. There are community websites and forums, where some massage businesses openly post ads seeking "ladies" and gay men who can massage and provide so-called "extra" services. Joy is a Thai masseuse in her 30s who has worked at several massage parlours in Sydney for about a year, but her name and voice have been changed to protect her identity.
She is in Australia on a student visa, studying English and accounting, and works at parlours that masquerade as straightforward massage parlours.
When I first started working as a masseuse, I was actually surprised to know that this kind of service existed. But after so many clients asked me, I thought to myself, 'Okay, I'll do it,' because I get a lot of money and it is less tiring than normal massage. The business owner usually pays Joy the equivalent of half the fee for a standard massage. Any "extra services" are negotiated directly with the clients.
And she says the business owners benefit from the extra bookings brought in by masseuses who offer sexual services so they often ignore such transactions on their premises. Dr Helen Pringle, a senior lecturer in social sciences at the University of New South Wales, has a particular academic interest in human trafficking and sexual slavery. She says the massage business often involves a grey area. So this is kind of a grey area that a lot of massage parlours operate in, between normal, ordinary massage and brothels.