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Prostitution referendum a return to dark ages

31 July, 2003
Prostitution referendum a return to dark ages

Green MP Sue Bradford has slammed the United Future MPs responsible for launching a citizens initiated referendum aimed at repealing the Prostitution Reform Act.

She said the United Future Party seemed hell-bent on stopping dead any progressive social reform.

"It is reprehensible that Gordon Copeland and Larry Baldock launch this petition without giving any chance for this law to work," said Ms Bradford.

"There is an automatic review process enshrined in this law to comprehensively study and address any issues arising from the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act.

"United Future would rather us all be damned to the past, living under the Victorian-era hypocrisy of convicting and condemning women who sell sexual services while protecting men who buy them."

Ms Bradford said that she was wary that the public would be fed a diet of misinformation and dogma and therefore any result of a citizens initiated referendum would not be based on a true and objective reading of the evidence.

"This Act was aimed at improving the health, safety and welfare of one of the most vulnerable and exploited groups of workers in New Zealand.

"Yet all we heard was a blatant attempt to obscure the truth by claiming the Act would encourage child prostitution and make New Zealand the sex capital of the South Pacific.

"This Act was aimed at curing the evils of the sex industry and enabling workers in the industry to move on to other employment.

"Otherwise, we have the shameful situation where women are trapped in the industry because of unfair convictions that provide a major barrier to gaining employment elsewhere.

"The backers of this referendum have exposed themselves as living in a time-warp by believing the sex industry would flourish under the act - like it hadn't before. It is a startling lack of reality.

"The criminalisation approach obviously hasn't worked before, what makes them believe it will work now?" asked Ms Bradford.

"Let's give decriminalisation a chance before pandering to the unfounded fears and outdated social codes we should have left in the 19th century, much less the 20th."

ENDS

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