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Competitors indulging in flesh trade leave Goa spas worried

Panaji: Salon and spa owners in Goa are facing prospects of a shutdown due to increasing presence of dubious and unregistered competitors which are doubling up as prostitution dens in the state.

"Unfortunately, salons and spas have become the favourite disguise for brothels and other illicit activities. The establishment of a salon, spa, massage centre, beauty parlour or even Ayurvedic spa as a front allows these unsavoury characters to carry out flesh trade with audacity," Goa Salon and Spa Association (GSSA) Secretary Sumit Bhobe told reporters yesterday.

"We were quiet and bearing brunt of this activity but now its time for us to speak out. Or else our business will be shut down on lines with mining industry or 'Bhelpuri' vendors which were shut down after few cases of illegalities," he said addressing media in presence of other association members.

He said the association members employ around 600 people and such instances result in damaging their morale. Police record indicates that various raids conducted on spas since January 2013, had 76 victim girls being rescued and 31 accused including five women arrested for flesh trade. GSSA Vice President Mario Barretto said the association has been trying to create awareness among people, especially politicians, who are painting all the spas with the same brush.

"Bad elements exist in every profession, every industry, in every walk of life. This does not mean that legitimate and honest businesses should suffer and face unprecedented hardships," he said. "Saddled with humiliation and burning with indignation at the same time, the Salon and Spa Industry is being tarred with the same dirty brush used on perpetrators of flesh trade," he added. The Association has decided to submit a white paper to the state government listing various demands.

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