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In the nineteenth century, prostitution was generally referred to as the "Social Evil". New Zealand was also amongst those dependencies that British authorities pressured into passing Contagious Diseases Acts ; New Zealand's was in force from The gendered rationale and practice of venereal disease policy formed a focus for early feminist activism.
Statute law dealing with prostitution in New Zealand at the time of the law reform included the Crimes Act , the Massage Parlours Act repealed in , and the Summary Offences Act Section 26 of the Summary Offences Act prohibited soliciting, S of the Crimes Act prohibited brothel-keeping, and S living on the earnings of prostitution, and S procuring. In , the Crimes Act was amended to criminalise both clients and operators where workers were aged under 18 the age of consent for sexual activity is Young people under 18 were still classed as offenders after this came into force, until the passage of the Prostitution Reform Act The Massage Parlours Act effectively allowed indoor commercial sex under a facade.
Prostitutes advertised their services as "escorts", and brothels advertised themselves as "massage parlours". Workers in "massage parlours" were required to be registered with the police from the time the Massage Parlours Act came into force. In the mids, the police extended this registration ex-officio to other indoor workers in some areas of the country. The police had approached media outlets letting them know that they may be "aiding and abetting" sex workers commit crimes such as brothel keeping, etc.
Labour returned to power — , and Tim Barnett Labour Christchurch Central — assumed responsibility for introducing it as a Private Member's Bill to decriminalise prostitution.
This was based on the harm reduction model of New South Wales The bill was introduced on 21 September , and placed in the ballot box, being drawn as number 3 and debated on 8 November as Bill Party support came from the Greens , notably Sue Bradford List, — It was opposed by New Zealand First , who proposed the Swedish approach of criminalising the purchase of sex.
It then proceeded to select committee Justice and Electoral ,  which received submissions and heard 66 submissions, amending and reporting in favour of the Bill on 29 November , following the election , the bill now being referred to as Bill This was a Private Member's Bill, and theoretically, members were allowed a conscience vote. However, the three members of the — coalition Labour, Greens, Alliance all had decriminalisation in their manifestos.
Later, the Prime Minister, Helen Clark , lent her support to the bill. During the parliamentary debates and committees, support came from some women's rights groups, some human rights groups, and some public health groups. The police were neutral. Some feminists opposed the decriminalisation of brothels and pimping see feminist views on prostitution , Christian groups were divided, and fundamentalist religious groups, including Right to Life, were opposed.
This bill passed narrowly; of MPs , 60 voted for it, 59 against, and one politician, Labour's Ashraf Choudhary , the country's only Muslim MP, abstained. The result was a surprise, as most commentators had expected the bill to fail.
An impassioned speech to parliament by Georgina Beyer , a transsexual and former sex worker, was believed by many observers to have persuaded several wavering MPs, possibly including Mr Choudhary, to change their votes at the last minute.
The Act replaced the previous legislation, largely removing voluntary adult age 18 and over prostitution from the criminal law and replacing it with civil law at both national and local level.
A distinction was made between voluntary and involuntary prostitution. It remains a crime to coerce someone to provide sexual services. Sex work is also prohibited for those on temporary visas, and immigration for and investment in sex work is prohibited. Contracts between provider and client were recognised, and providers have the right to refuse services. Contested contracts can be referred to the Disputes Tribunal. Advertising is banned, with the exception of print media, which is restricted.
The Summary Offences Act remains in force in relation to soliciting, which may be classed as offensive behaviour. Sex work is recognised but not promoted as legitimate work by Work and Income New Zealand , who may not advertise vacancies in brothels or suggest people start sex work as a means of getting off a benefit. Now, workplace safety and health rules, developed in consultation with the prostitutes' collective, apply to sex work. Employment disputes can be referred to the Labour Inspectorate and Mediation Service.
There is an obligation on employers and employees to practise and promote safe sexual practices. The Ministry of Health has the responsibility for enforcement. Registration of indoor sex workers with the police was replaced by certification at an administrative law level of brothel operators. Refusal of a certificate is permitted for prior criminal offences not necessarily related to prostitution.
Police activities changed from the registration and prosecution of sex workers to protection. The Police Manual of Best Practice was amended to include prostitution. Local government was empowered to develop by-laws for zoning and advertising, but not prohibit sex work. In summary, the Act decriminalised soliciting, living off the proceeds of someone else's prostitution, and brothel-keeping.
Following the passage of the Prostitution Reform Act, the Maxim Institute and other conservative Christian organisations tried to gain an appropriate number of signatures for a citizens-initiated referendum under the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act Local Government New Zealand provided model by-laws and procedures.
Court challenges have usually failed to uphold more restrictive council by-laws. By , 17 of 74 local governments had drafted or implemented by-laws. A report on the Prostitution Reform Act was produced, with the aim of studying the effects of the new legal system. This evaluation was included in , within the Act.
In order to help counter criticism,  a review on the Prostitution Reform Act had to be conducted three to five years after the Act came into force. The evaluation released an initial report in September , which indicated that the number of sex workers on the streets was approximately the same as before the Act came into force in , and, in some cases, even slightly reduced, contrary to allegations that it has increased.
An examination of entry and exit factors showed that many sex workers said they desired to continue to sell sex, as financial return and independence were attractive features. Workers seemed more empowered, but there was still violence on the streets. It is clear, when reading the Act, the Prostitution Reform Act did not decriminalise violence, and the Police take action about violence when sex workers make complaints c.
Some deficiencies in safe practices, especially for oral sex, were identified. Perceived stigma remained a problem. Inconsistencies were noted between local and central government intent, the former being more restrictive, causing problems for some workers. It found no evidence for the claims of critics at the time of introduction, and it concluded that there was no expansion of the industry. However, employment conditions still left a good deal to be desired. Stigma remained a major problem, and the traditional distrust of authorities also remained.
Sex workers are now more willing to report crimes against them than they had been in the past. Following the release of the evaluation of the Prostitution Reform Act , suggestions of bias were raised, and critics such as the evangelical Christian TEAR Fund 's Humanitarian Chronicle stated that authors of the report were "supporters" of the sex industry , and thus, not "neutral". They stated that the situation was much worse than presented in the evaluation. Melissa Farley , an opponent of the legislation, stated that the decriminalisation of prostitution had very negative effects e.
The Committee considers that the research undertaken by the CSOM conclusively refutes an increase of this magnitude, with the figures estimating the number of Auckland street-based sex workers at ". Moves to restrict prostitution in New Zealand continue. The party's last remaining MP was voted out of Parliament in , and it was subsequently absorbed into the Conservative Party of New Zealand. The party maintains the Kiwi Party's earlier opposition to prostitution law reform, but, like the Kiwi Party before it, polls well under the minimum threshold required for parliamentary list-only representation.
In May , Elizabeth Subritzky submitted a petition on behalf of Freedom from Sexual Exploitation that asked the House of Representatives to "legislate for a national plan of action to combat street prostitution, including a law which makes the purchase of sexual services illegal". In its concluding comment, the committee stated: However, we are aware that the eradication of street-based prostitution has not proved to be achievable in any jurisdiction, and simply banning it may have negative consequences for the health and safety of sex workers.
Yet, sex workers, who have been given their rights by Parliament in when sex work was decriminalised, continually have to defend themselves in parliament, fight the same battles, and time after time have to refute the same tired arguments based on invented figures.
As in other countries, New Zealand sex workers work in a variety of settings, including street prostitution and the indoor market in brothels and saunas, as well as for escort agencies and as independent workers. Street prostitution continues to dominate debates because of its visibility.
Since the 22 February earthquake in Christchurch this has moved to Ferry Road and the residential end of Manchester Street. Despite it being illegal see Attorney General's opinion on the New Zealand Bill of Rights to discriminate against individuals on the basis of gender identity within New Zealand, the transgender community often finds that many of its younger members require survival sex for food, shelter and rest.
Therefore, they are heavily represented within street sex work. Conflicts in the South Auckland area of Manukau continue to be the focus of debate see below. Many sex workers find employment in brothels or escort agencies. In the brothels, clients come to the place of business, which may be in a commercial area and fairly obvious, sometimes attached to a strip club, or more discreetly in a residential area. Escort agencies take phone calls from clients and arrange for the worker to go to their homes or motels.
It is illegal for brothel operators to fine workers for lateness, unprofessional conduct and other misdemeanours,  but many legally charge what they call 'shift fees', and most require their workers to buy their own clothes and accessories.
This means that on a slow night the worker may actually lose money. However, brothels and escort agencies are generally seen as preferable to street prostitution, as their environment appears to be relatively safe. Brothels vary in size between 3 sex workers on duty to up to approximately Brothels and agencies advertise through a range of media, including billboards, the Internet, and late night television advertisements, but especially newspaper advertisements, particularly in New Zealand Truth until its closure in One of the results of the law change is that and year-old sex workers are no longer allowed to work in brothels.
With the exception of several well publicized cases this change has been successful. Sex workers who do not wish to be employed often set up one-person or two-person brothels or agencies, commonly in their homes.
Within the definitions of the act these are called small owner operated brothels SOOBs. They tend to rely on classified newspaper advertisements particularly New Zealand Truth until its closure in , or by advertising on the Internet.
Potential areas of result skew include:. The vast majority of New Zealand sex workers are biologically female, but there are also male and transgender workers, particularly in Auckland. Both engage in sole operator businesses as described above, and a few male brothels and escort agencies exist. In addition, transgender street-based sex workers are not uncommon. Male sex workers aiming at a male clientele usually advertise in the gay newspaper Express or in New Zealand Truth until its closure in Manukau City in South Auckland consistently opposed the legislation.
Manukau felt that street prostitution was particularly problematic in its area. Manukau City Council 's portfolio leader for community safety, Councillor Dick Quax , was particularly critical.
In , he said that "involvement of gangs and organised crime in street prostitution has become evident Street prostitution also attracts offensive litter, disorder, drugs, and intimidation",  and, "There are kids going to school with condoms lying on the street and prostitutes still standing around.
It's dangerous, not only for the workers themselves, but for the rest of the community. We're sick of it The community has had enough. It's not fun to come out in the morning and be having to clean up condoms lying in your garden and on the fence. Cleaning up condoms and needles - it's just not fair. This has led to conflicts with the locals, which have attempted to curb this phenomenon, by trying to scare off prostitutes' customers, breaking negotiations between prostitutes and clients, and sending the prostitutes' clients letters, tracking them down through their car registration plates.
A private Bill, the Manukau City Council Control of Street Prostitution Bill , led to hearings before a select committee, but failed to pass its second parliamentary reading on 11 October 46 votes to 73  following a Select Committee Report that stated that, "initiatives supported by the local community, sex workers and their advocates, outreach workers, social agencies, and the police are a more effective and appropriate use of resources than the proposed legislated solution".
This resulted in critics of the legislation to be dissatisfied. Councillor Quax said that the review was very disappointing: Manukau then made a further attempt to regulate prostitution with the Manukau City Council Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places Bill The future of the Bill was placed in doubt when Manukau City Council ceased to exist in late , being absorbed into the Auckland Council.
However, the new Auckland Council endorsed the bill  and in view of the municipal reorganisation Auckland was given till February to present its submission, the Committee hoping to report to parliament in March , enabling a second reading of the bill.
However, in late June , retiring Manurewa New Zealand Labour Party MP George Hawkins conceded that his private members bill had insufficient parliamentary support to pass its second reading, now scheduled for September , and said that the perceived "radical" expansion of the bill to encompass the whole of Auckland City would adversely affect any subsequent passage. Other objections are local exemptions to national ambit legislation, and criticism from law enforcement and social service agencies that provide front-line health and social services to street sex workers.
It was also seen as contravening the Bill of Rights. Despite such objections, local Papatoetoe businesses hope to invest in more closed circuit television surveillance cameras to deal with what they view as "anti-social" and "public nuisance" behaviour allegedly ancillary to street sex work.
Supporters of the sex workers argue that the behaviour in question may be unrelated to their presence, and linked to the early closure of public toilets and widespread alcohol outlets within the adjacent area.
The private member's bill has since been reintroduced to Parliament, with strong criticism from the LGBT community. They argue that the bill will disproportionately affect transgender street sex workers, given that gender identity is not covered within New Zealand's Human Rights Act They also argue that the Manukau and Auckland City Council have contributed to the situation through closure of public toilets and denial of the use of council rental accommodation to sex workers, and denounce what is argued to be vigilante tactics from some anti-sexworker local residents.
There are an estimated 40 million sex workers globally, according to French charity Fondation Scelles. Activists say most have been lured, duped or forced into sexual slavery by pimps and traffickers, largely due to poverty, a lack of opportunities and a marginalised status in society. Once forced to work in brothels, on street corners, in massage parlours, strip clubs or private homes, it is difficult for sex workers to leave, activists say.
For many it is the threat of physical abuse from their pimp that keeps them in prostitution, but some stay because they have been ostracised by their families and have nowhere to go.
Quidet said what was interesting about the experiment was the reaction of clients on discovering the woman they had wanted for sex had been beaten to a pulp or stabbed to death. But it never happened. Not once," she said. While clients were compassionate at first and wanted to know what had happened to the victim, expressing shock at the violence, it quickly changed to denial -- all they wanted was a girl for the night, she said.
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