‘Why are there as many massage parlours as pastizzi shops?’: MP raises suspicion on inaction

Graziella Attard Previ questioned whether the lack of action is part of a wider effort to legalise prostitution

Nationalist MP Graziella Attard Previ raised concerns in parliament over the government’s lack of action against the hundreds of massage parlours, often doubling as brothels, that have been set up across the island.

Quoting a MaltaToday article, Attard Previ noted that there were nearly 200 massage parlours licensed in Malta and Gozo by the end of 2016.

“When there are so many professional physiotherapists and spas, even in hotels, offering massage services, one questions why there are as many massage parlours as there are pastizzi shops,” she stated.

She further questioned why government is yet to take any action against such massage parlours after several court cases found that they were operating as brothels.

“While prostitution isn’t a crime, the exploitation of women for prostitution is a punishable crime. Why are we turning a blind eye and allowing foreign women to be trafficked and exploited for these reasons?”

She called for better regulation around these massage parlours, which have been largely allowed to operate freely over the years.

“Why are Maltese people never hired in these places? Could it be because these places are truly prostitution centres hidden in our localities?”

She mentioned a recent study using data from 2018 and 2019 which found that a number Chinese workers in massage parlours developed sexually-transmitted infections during their time in Malta.

“I must ask why government is closing its eyes to this reality. Is it because it wants to legalise prostitution despite resistance from 40 women’s rights groups?” she said. “A feminist government cannot pass on the message that prostitution is a legitimate job,” she said.

“Prosititon diminishes the dignity of every woman. Prostitutes are victims of exploitation where the human body is sold for money. Government should do everything to help victims and criminalise anyone causing harm to others.