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AIDS Foundation supports Prostitution Reform Bill

29 November 2002

Media release:

AIDS Foundation supports Prostitution Reform Bill report

New Zealand AIDS Foundation today expressed its support for the Justice and Electoral Reform Select Committee report released today on the Prostitution Reform Bill.

Kevin Hague, Foundation Executive Director, said:

“ The Select Committee has carefully considered all the submissions presented to it on the Bill. It has sensibly recommended that the Bill continue to promote the decriminalisation of prostitution in New Zealand.”

The Members Bill, sponsored by Tim Barnett MP, will now proceed to Second Reading and the Committee of the Whole House in February and March 2003.

The Bill has been motivated by the need to improve the safety and welfare of sex workers, and by the unfairness, complexity and highly variable enforcement of the current laws. The Bill, among other things, strengthens laws against coercion of sex workers, repeals all current prostitution laws, and establishes a review committee, one task of which will be to look at services available to help people avoid entering and to leave the sex industry. The Bill also introduces safe information requirements for the sex industry.

“The legal status of sex work has significant bearing on the effectiveness of HIV and AIDS prevention programmes targeting sex workers. The Foundation strongly supports the public health components of the Prostitution Reform Bill. Where sex work is illegal, legislative frameworks are often oriented towards penalising individual sex workers. In such settings, sex workers are less likely to seek health services and more likely to conduct their activities underground.”

There are some aspects of the Bill as reported back that cause some concern to the Foundation. These concerns primarily affect how the Bill addresses concerns about safer sex and the prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs.

“The Bill, as reported back, places the responsibility of safe sex on the sex worker as opposed to the previous draft of the Bill which places the responsibility on the owner of the sex industry service. This may leave the sex worker vulnerable in negotiating safe sex practices. The Foundation will look further into this issue outlined in the report and make recommendations for change if appropriate. “


ENDS

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