STOP THE TRAFFIK Statement on the murder of 8 massage-parlour workers in the USA

*Trigger warning – this statement refers to gun violence and hate crime. 

On Tuesday 16 March 2021, eight people were murdered in a senseless attack by a lone gunman in Atlanta, GA.  

Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andrew Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyau Feng, Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Yue. All were massage parlour employees. Six were Asian women.  

STOP THE TRAFFIK shares in the grief and anger felt by both the Asian and massage-parlour working communities.  

The last few months have seen a surge in violent hate crimes against the Asian community, and it would be negligent to ignore the racial motives behind this tragedy. Asian women are a highly fetishized group, and while it’s not currently known if any of those murdered participated in sex work or would identify as sex workers, the shooters statement to the police is telling of a pervasive stereotype. Speaking in custody, he spoke of his victims as a ‘temptation…he wanted to eliminate’.  

Esther K, co-director of grassroots Chinese massage parlour worker coalition Red Canary Song said, ‘the conflation of massage parlours and sex workers without any nuance is very specific to anti-Asian racism against Asian women.’

While we’ll likely never know whether the victims identified personally as sex workers, it’s important to note that while sex work and massage parlours can sometimes be linked, they can also operate as separate, unrelated services

It’s clear much work needs to be done to address the physical and sexual violence against massage parlour workers.  

STOP THE TRAFFIK is committed to playing a part in initiating this change. 

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