Panaji: Banning cross-gender massages is not a sure way of preventing prostitution in the privacy of spa and salon cubicles, because of swelling gay and lesbian communities, leading spa operators in Goa claim.
Speaking to IANS Monday on the sidelines of a media event, Sumit Bhobe, general secretary of the Goa Salon and Spa Association (GSSA), said the spa industry in Goa has been tarnished unnecessarily because of rogue operators who were carrying out "shady" activities in the garb of spas and other therapy outlets.
"Banning cross-gender massaging will not guarantee stopping of illegal activity -- with the gay and lesbian community on the rise, sexual favours are no longer a heterosexual domain, hence these may continue even in a same-gender scenario," Bhobe said.
"We offer customers a gender choice. Gender segregation would actually mean discrimination against women, who form the bulk of the spa and salon industry."
"There are bad apples everywhere. the government should crack down on them," Bhobe added.
The association's statement comes in wake of severe criticism of the spa and massage centre operators.
One of the contentious issues between the government and the spa operators is the practice of cross massages i.e. male massagers for women patrons and female masseuses for men at the spas and salons.
Bhobe claims that the association was started with eleven members, with an aim to create awareness of the spa industry and push the concerns of the genuine spa and salon operators.
Goa is one of the leading beach tourism destinations in the state and has seen mushrooming of lifestyle oriented spas and salons especially in the coastal areas in the last decade.