Sex workers support group opposes Hillsborough bathhouse ordinance

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Sydney Eastman, the founder of the “Sex Worker Solidarity Network,” is concerned about a plan by the Hillsborough County Commission to regulate bathhouses.

“It’s marketed as anti-human trafficking but actually does nothing to stop human trafficking what so ever,” said Eastman.

The county started looking into the issue after the City of Tampa passed a new ordinance on bathhouses after complaints increased about massage parlors on Kennedy Boulevard.

Joe Manson, founder of the group “Clean Up Kennedy,” doesn’t buy Eastman’s claims.

“I think that’s a gross mischaracterization of what the law will do,” he said. “All the bathhouse ordinance will do is make sure of what goes on inside of, what’s classified as bathhouses, is legal, legitimate, clean, safe work.”

Eastman isn’t even convinced illegal activity is happening inside the massage parlors that Manson is concerned about.

“We have no evidence that these spas are providing illicit services,” Eastman said. “Whether they are or whether they aren’t, we are still targeting them in a way that harms them instead of helps them.”

Manson says that Eastman is doing whatever she can to promote an illegal industry.

“They are going to use whatever arguments they can to try to protect their trade and to try to promote it as well,” said Manson.

Hillsborough County is still working to draft an ordinance and it’s expected to be presented to the full commission for a vote by March.

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