massage sensual

Local health authorities have removed a legal requirement for non-EU nationals working as massage therapists to be routinely tested for sexually transmitted infections, a rule that was criticised for equating the massage industry with sex work.

The requirement was ostensibly put in place to introduce a modicum of regulation within a legal lacuna, with sex work establishments euphemistically termed ‘massage parlours’ mushrooming around the country.

These establishments often employ women from Asia or Latin America, whose visa must be renewed annually.

As part of the visa renewal process, non-EU nationals must undergo a general health screening, but massage therapists were previously singled out and made to present the results of Hepatitis C, HIV and other STI screenings.

Malta was the only European country to impose an STI test on foreign massage therapists.

The story was originally picked up by this newsroom in 2021, but health authorities refused to comment despite repeated requests, with the Ministry for Health and the Superintendent for Public Health directing questions to each other.

The STI screening requirement was removed by early 2022 in a change caught by law student Klara Cachia in her Bachelor of Laws dissertation about Asian massage parlours.

Ms Cachia wrote that the policy “disappeared” from the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Unit’s website. When she questioned the Health Department about the change, she was told that it was removed “as some believed it amounted to ‘slander’”.

She continued: “One questions the discreet manner in which the government proceeds to regulate this industry, choosing to introduce new policies and laws and repeal existing ones without notification or deliberation.”


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