- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new Wichita ordinance bans all sex activity in massage parlors and requires formal training for would-be masseurs and masseuses.

The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1pgBYBi ) reports that the Wichita City Council approved the measure Tuesday. It’s designed to fight sex trafficking and prostitution.

Under the ordinance, massage parlor owners, operators and employees must undergo an extensive licensing procedure. The measure also bans nudity while performing massages, requiring “fully opaque” coverage of breasts, buttocks and genitalia.

“I myself was a skeptic originally because of the many attempts ran at this in the past,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell. “We’re very cautious when we enact something that we’re not doing more harm than good.”

Kansas is one of a handful of states that doesn’t regulate massage therapy. The push for regulations came from police after they started seeing an increase in the number of human trafficking cases at massage businesses.

City documents show that police arrested 22 people on suspicion of human trafficking at massage parlors in 2015.

Julie Sharp, who has been an independent massage practitioner for more than 15 years, told the City Council she fully supported the measure.

“(Massage) is a good resource people have to better their health and better their life,” she said. “It’s a tragedy that something so good can be used to harm some.”

She said she wished the state would regulate the massage industry so that cities didn’t have to. A bill that was introduced in the Kansas Legislature last year to license massage businesses never went anywhere.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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