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Goff releases benchmark reports on NZ sex industry

18 April 2005

Goff releases benchmark reports on NZ sex industry

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Justice Minister Phil Goff today released two reports on the sex industry that will help set benchmarks for assessing the impact of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 over the next few years.

Mr Goff tabled in Parliament the Prostitution Law Review Committee's report "The Nature and Extent of the Sex Industry in New Zealand: An Estimation", and he also released "The Sex Industry in New Zealand: A Literature Review", prepared by Dr Jan Jordon of Victoria University for the Ministry of Justice.

"The objectives of the Prostitution Reform Act are to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; improve the health, safety and well-being of sex industry workers, and prevent prostitution involving young people under 18," Mr Goff said.

"The Act does not condone prostitution but recognises that there are a number of social objectives to prevent harm that need to be met with respect to it. While prostitution has always been a part of life in our society, implementation of those objectives was made more difficult because soliciting, though not prostitution itself, was illegal.

"A requirement of the Act was to establish the Review Committee, which is charged with assessing the extent to which the Act is achieving its purpose.

"The committee was required by the Act to prepare a report on the number of workers in the sex industry, and to conduct a comparative study when the Act has been in force for three to five years.

"The report comprises two sections: a survey of police staff providing estimates of numbers in the sex industry in 2003, and an audit by the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective of the number of advertisements for commercial sexual services in Wellington and Auckland on three dates in 2003 and one in 2004.

"Estimates of the number of sex workers need to be viewed with caution, however. Much of the industry's activity has been hidden in the past. This, together with its past non-regulated nature, means that the report's findings, while a useful indicator, may not be an accurate assessment, and may underestimate actual numbers."

Mr Goff said the literature review, which looks at reports and studies published prior to June 2004, was commissioned to provide an assessment of the state of the sex industry in the years leading up to the passage of the Act.

It examines safety, exploitation and health issues relating to sex workers, as well as the use in prostitution of people under 18. It also examines overseas models of prostitution law reform, and evaluations of those reforms.

Note: The Prostitution Law Review Committee and Dr Jordan are available to comment on the findings of the reports.

ENDS

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