The Atlanta Spa Murders Were Motivated by Sex, Not Race

American Greatness 19 March 2021 – Donna Hughes
On March 16, a man entered three Atlanta-area “spas” and killed eight people, seven of them women, six of them Asian women. A massacre.

I knew right away that these establishments were Asian massage parlors. I’ve researched the sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls for 30 years. The exteriors of the buildings, the signs, and the lights show all the trappings of places that sell sexual massages and sex acts. Two of the three spas, the Gold Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa, advertise they are open 24 hours a day. These are not the kind of places a woman goes for a manicure.

The killer admits to “visiting spas”—a euphemism for buying sex, an illegal act—in the past, and he wanted to punish the women. The killer told police that he had a “sex addiction.” Instead of getting help to end his compulsive behavior, he killed the victims of his sexual obsession. He killed them because they were women, not because they were Asian. According to the Cherokee County Sheriff,  the killer said his murders were “not racially motivated.”

In the research and activism world, we call these men “sex buyers.” There are several research studies that have found that sex buyers are more violent and misogynistic than men who don’t buy sex. Andrea Heinz, who previously worked in massage parlors, knows sex buyers very well. She often hears people argue that lonely guys who can’t forge healthy sexual relationships with women need places like the spas. She says people with this view are ignoring the callous, often cruel, behavior of sex buyers.

According to the Polaris Project, more than 9,000 illicit massage businesses operate in the United States. Many of the women are victims of human trafficking from China and South Korea who are under financial pressure, meaning they owe large debts in their home countries. Six of the murdered women in Atlanta appear to have been Korean.

Most illicit massage businesses are part of Asian criminal networks. Police Chief Magazine in November ran an article about combatting human trafficking. They showed that many of the illicit massage businesses are connected to just a few addresses. One of the well-known hubs is in Flushing, New York.

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