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Federal law enforcement officers have discovered illicit massage parlors in every New Hampshire county, with victims of human trafficking being forced to have sex with customers. The National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 75 victims in New Hampshire in 2021, most involving sex in illicit massage parlors and spas.
Law enforcement officers say the state’s lax licensing laws are helping those parlors stay in business. Local officials, advocates who work with assault victims, and the head of the state’s licensing agency agree.
Since the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force formed in 2016, it has identified 50 illicit massage businesses in the state, said Director Meg Chant, who is also the human trafficking project specialist at the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“We’re not looking at this as just a law enforcement situation,” Chant said. “Generally, law enforcement can’t do it on their own. Victim services can’t do it on their own. And it really is just about trying to reach those victims. Yes, if we can prosecute the people who are doing it, the traffickers, that’s great. But we’re really looking at making the victim safe.”
April 3, 2023
New Hampshire Bulletin