perators involved in the emerging investigations into sexual misconduct in spas are shattered to find their businesses have been the setting for predatory sexual behaviour by staff against clients. The Weinstein scandal has empowered people who’ve lacked the confidence to speak out, meaning we’re hearing the truth about the darker parts of our world. Overlay the possibility that in more litigious countries, compensation is also a motivation for a few unethical individuals, and it stacks up to mean we’re highly exposed and facing what is arguably our first existential threat as an sector. Massage and other one-to-one treatments are the engine room driving the industry and if customers lose faith in our ability to keep them safe when they’re naked and vulnerable, they will simply stay away. Our future success, reputation, and prosperity will depend on how effectively we tackle this challenge. For operators, covering up what has happened is an understandable reaction, because we’ll see business failures as a result of these revelations and people are frightened for their livelihoods. But apart from being morally wrong and utterly unacceptable, the message from the courts of law dealing with these cases is coming through loud and clear – deny it, fail to report it or cover it up and that will be a major factor counting against you when it comes to determining the severity of the legal outcome. At the heart of the solution is a need for more vigilance over our people. Just as doctors and other professionals need to be qualified and licenced and can be struck off for bad practice, so we must move to have this level of safeguarding for therapists. Customers will demand it and we must be able to prove our industry is well-governed to gain their trust.
The relationship between client and therapist is based on trust, good intentions and professionalism. Revelations about sexual abuse of guests by therapists threatens all these things in an existential way. It’s time for the industry to unite, find its moral compass and take control
Our future prosperity and power to do good is at stake
Just as doctors must be qualified and licenced and can be struck off for bad practice, so we must have this level of safeguarding in place for therapists This is a wealthy sector that could afford to implement this type of system, but greed means corners are being cut by many when it comes to hiring, and with no process in place for oversight, rogue therapists, once discovered, can simply move on and continue their abuse elsewhere. Industry bodies and leading operators must come together to create a system which will place our industry on a professional footing to ensure there’s no way in for those who would abuse the trust our customers place in us.
Liz Terry, editorial director @elizterry
Contact Spa Business: +44 (0) 1462 431385 firstname.lastname@example.org
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