Karaoke bars like this have opened up a new front in America’s war on human trafficking and the illegal sex market. Massage parlors in the US – where prostitution is illegal everywhere except Nevada – have long been notorious as fronts for the sex trade and for exploiting women mostly from China and Korea. But as culture changes and new government policies are introduced, the enslavement strategies used by traffickers and the sex market itself are getting more sophisticated. Women are falling into bondage through debts for plastic surgery and technology has been used to lure victims.
Under-the-counter sexual services and human trafficking are now just as likely to be linked to karaoke bars, clubs and residential brothels. According to anti-slavery group Polaris, which runs a National Trafficking Hotline, of the 8,759 labour and sex trafficking cases reported last year, 1,572 involved escort services.