An early Critique of the New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act: more details

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Jul 19 08:15:19 MDT 2003


10 reasons why the {New Zealand] Prostitution Reform Bill won't work [by the
Maxim Institute]


Prostitution law reform has been tested marketed in Australia. The closest
example to what is proposed in New Zealand is New South Wales (NSW) where
prostitution was decriminalised in 1995. The experience in NSW, plus
evidence from New Zealand and other countries is compelling.
Decriminalisation of prostitution not only fails to deliver, it contributes
to worsening the problems inherent in the sex industry.

1. The size of the industry will increase

Australia has experienced a vast increase in both legal and illegal
brothels. The number of brothels in NSW has more than tripled to more than
500 - half of which don't have planning approval. There are now an estimated
10,000 prostitutes in NSW. An Auckland Massage Parlour operator told the
select committee, "It can confidently be predicted that decriminalisation
will at double or treble those choosing to operate [as private operators]
because the fear of prosecution is removed."

2. Decriminalisation will not reduce the number of under-age children
working the streets

While it will be illegal for a brothel to employ a girl under the age of 18,
it will not be illegal under the new law for an under age girl to solicit
sex. A 1999 Save the Children report found 3,700 children working as
prostitutes in Australia - the worst states were Victoria where prostitution
was legalised and NSW where it was decriminalised. A Christchurch School of
Medicine study found two-thirds of Christchurch street prostitutes starting
working under the age of 18. Girls as young as 12 years old are being picked
up in Auckland and Christchurch.

3. Violence against prostitutes will increase

An 11 year study by Oslo criminologists found that all prostitutes suffer
deep psychological damage as a result of their occupation. US researchers
Susan Hunter and KC Reed report: "About 80% of women in prostitution have
been the victim of rape.Prostitutes are raped, on the average, eight to ten
times a year." A 1985 Canadian report concluded that girls and women in
prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times the national average. Melbourne
University Associate Professor of Politics, Shelia Jefferies says,
"Legalisation and decriminalisation are actually institutionalising,
promoting and teaching the abuse of women and creating an ever expanding
industry which normalises that abuse."

4. The rate of sexually transmitted disease will increase

The NSW Health Department says the rate for gonorrhoea has soared in
Australia since 1995, when brothels were effectively legalised. Condoms are
not 100% and premiums are paid for sex without condoms. They provide no
protection against scabies, lice, genital warts or herpes and are only 85%
effective against AIDS. There are no requirements in the bill for health
inspections and brothels would be prohibited from advertising workers are
disease free.

5. The number of illegal brothels will not decrease

In September 2001, then NSW Opposition leader, Mr Brogden, stated in
parliament, "Since 1995, when the Carr Government decriminalised brothels in
NSW, there has been an explosion in the number of illegal brothels operating
in Sydney and in regional and rural NSW." All licensing and zoning of
brothels in NSW is the responsibility of municipal councils. Sydney councils
became so upset over the problems the legislation created they have appealed
for help to the Attorney-General. The number of unlicensed brothels in
Melbourne trebled and despite legalisation in Victoria the number of illegal
brothels still outnumbers those that are licensed.

6. It will not remove prostitutes from the streets

Since legalisation in Victoria street prostitution became so bad that the
Attorney-General formed a committee of inquiry in 2001 to find solutions.
Resulting recommendations have proven to be unworkable. In NSW under
decriminalisation street prostitution has been so offensive that residents
have marched in protest. Under the bill there are no restrictions on
soliciting which will be legal anywhere including outside; schools, places
of worship, residential houses and in shopping malls.

7. Drug use will saturate the industry

Bob Harkness, chairperson of Drug-Arm in Christchurch says that drugs and
prostitution are inextricably linked. Bob is regularly working with street
prostitutes in Christchurch and estimates that 75-80% are using drugs.
Australian estimates put the figure at 85%. Prostitution researchers and
social workers all agree that drugs and alcohol are used to take away both
physical and emotional pain so prostitutes can detach themselves from what
they do.

8. There will be an increase in control by gangs and organised crime

The bill contains no restrictions on who can own or manage a brothel.
Neither are there any controls on pimping. In NSW Police reported 40
shootings in three months as part of a struggle between rival groups for
control of prostitution. The Herald-Sun (April 2002) reported that,
"Victoria's booming sex industry is operating almost free from
regulation.the lack of policing means brothel bosses can flout the law by
employing drug addicts and under-age workers." NZ Police already note in the
select committee report that, "Organised crime groups are reportedly
involved in many aspects of the sex industry in New Zealand."

9. There will be an increase in illegal immigrants and 'slavery'

A US State Department report on human rights in 2000 condemned Australia's
lax laws because of the increase in trafficking of East Asian women into
Australia's sex industry. A former Federal Australian police officer stated
on national radio that hundreds of illegally imported Asian women are being
exploited in NSW brothels every day. Auckland police estimate that there are
already around 500 Thai women in the Auckland sex industry. At least two
cases have been recently reported of Asian women being forced into
prostitution illegally in Auckland.

10. Advertising and recruitment will become more blatant

There are no provisions for any restrictions on advertising in the bill;
these matters will be left entirely up to local councils. "Market forces
make for high profile advertising in this industry if there are no
restraints," Auckland Commercial Massage Operators told the select committee
in February 2001. Australian and New Zealand promoters of the bill envisage
high profile chains and franchising of brothels. Girls are already been
approached by pimps outside Tauranga's Bethlehem College. Recruiting and
pimping will be unrestricted under the bill.


A better way

Clearly here needs to be reform, but we have to find a better way. The
current law is often criticised as being unbalanced for prosecuting the
prostitute while the client has no such concern. One answer might be
adopting Sweden's approach where a law was introduced in 1999 making it
illegal to purchase sexual services. There is strong evidence the law is
working well and providing protection for Swedish women.






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