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Reform Yes - But Not The Current Prostitution Bill


25 September 2002

Reform Yes - But Not The Current Prostitution Bill

Maxim Institute agrees that there are problems with the present prostitution law and reform is needed.

However, the Prostitution Reform Bill under consideration by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee will not achieve its aims and will worsen the situation in almost every instance, says Maxim spokeswoman Jenny Horst.

“Proceeding with this current Bill will be seen as giving approval to prostitution and normalising the activity. But it is not normal for a woman to be subjected to the kind of abuse that is inherent in the sex industry.

“Numerous studies show the act of prostitution induces severe medical and psychological conditions. The physical and emotional pain is what leads most of them to drugs. And studies around the world have concluded that all prostitution causes harm and suffering,” said Jenny Horst.

Australian experience demonstrates that decriminalising and legalising prostitution massively increases the size of the industry.

“One Auckland massage parlour owner has already told the Select Committee that it can confidently be predicted that decriminalisation will at least double or treble the number of operators because the fear of prosecution is removed.

Mrs Horst warned the committee, “build it and they will come.”

If industry predictions hold true prostitution could grow in Auckland from 3,000 prostitutes currently to between 6,000 and 9,000, making it one of the city’s biggest work forces.

The proposed Reform Bill will decriminalise soliciting - offering sex for money, while also making it legal to run a brothel, live off the earnings of a prostitute and procure sexual services (pimping).

“The PRB will dismantle the sanctions and incentives that enable the Police to run a de facto licensing system, which helps to reduce the involvement of some predators in the industry.”

There are serious flaws in the bill as presently drafted:
- It provides no provisions for regular health and safety inspections of brothels.
- It has no regulations, codes or licensing arrangements.
- There are no controls over who can own or manage a brothel.
- It imposes no health standards beyond trying to encourage wearing condoms.
(It mandates that information on safe sex practices is displayed, but prohibits brothels claiming their workers are disease free.)
- It provides no accountability for the industry beyond market forces.
- It proposes no controls on advertising by brothels.
- It provides no resources for local authorities and no zoning guidelines.
- It provides no system for complaints against brothel.

In New South Wales, which has a similar law to that proposed in New Zealand, Sydney metropolitan councils have complained to the government that the situation is out of control, and they are wasting hundreds of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars to try and stop things getting out of hand.

Street prostitution in Melbourne under legalisation has become so bad the State’s Attorney-General had to call a committee of inquiry and bring some control.

“There is no reason to believe that New Zealand’s experience will be any different to Australia’s. Decriminalisation will not make the industry safer or healthier for anyone and in fact will be open slather for the exploiters.” said Jenny Horst

The Auckland Commercial Massage Operators have given Parliament an ominous forecast: “Markets forces in the sex industry create business profit by exploiting any desire that will be bought…..it is predicted that as the Bill is currently written, it will not of itself, achieve the goals set out in the explanatory note to the Bill.”

Mrs Horst told the Select Committee that there is a better way. New Zealand should take a lead from Sweden and prosecute the buyers.

“Swedish legislation that came into force in 1999 made it illegal to purchase sexual services along with a range of measures to prevent violence against women and to help them get out of prostitution.

“Research confirms that the act of prostitution is harmful and the law should be used to deter and prevent that abuse.

“Maxim Institute maintains that in a free, just and compassionate society men should not be able to buy women. We need reform but the prostitution reform bill would be a backward step for women, while an approach similar to Sweden’s would be a huge leap forward,” said Jenny Horst.

For more information and comment contact:
Scott McMurray, Maxim Communications Director Tel. 027 222 1174

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