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Unflinching Support for Prostitution Reform Bill

Unflinching Support for Prostitution Reform Bill

No one disagrees that society needs to address those factors that pressure people into prostitution. But, in the interim, should those currently in the industry, or who seek to leave that industry continue to have lesser human rights than the rest of us?

At its centennial conference in 1996, the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) membership introduced policy that supported the decriminalisation of prostitution-related offences while maintaining legislative controls to protect the independence and welfare of sex workers.

Seven years on and NCWNZ remains convinced that decriminalisation of prostitution is a matter of social justice and human rights.

"NCWNZ believes the Bill will not encourage entry into prostitution - but unaddressed poverty related factors will. NCWNZ also believes the Bill may encourage those who wish to leave prostitution, because it removes the possibility of prostitution-related convictions. To criminalise young people for their prostitution would only increase their social marginalisation and perpetuate their disadvantaged status" said Beryl Anderson, NCWNZ National President.

The law changes debated thus far do not endorse, morally sanction, or normalise prostitution. Decriminalisation means, as it did in 1996 and does today, removing the blanket criminality of an activity and replacing it with a more targeted law focused on the real harms associated with that activity.

Uniquely in any prostitution law reform worldwide, the Bill provides for the establishment of a review committee. This will be a real opportunity to monitor the industry working under the new legislation. The review committee will provide some robust data and valid information on which to base any future changes without the supposition and emotion that has clouded the present debate.

"NCWNZ is absolutely against the exploitation of prostitutes just as we are against exploitation per se, and supports fully the Articles of CEDAW on the suppression of trafficking in women, the exploitation of prostitution, and the need for equal protection under the law that prostitutes require," said Beryl Anderson.

The Prostitution Reform Bill, if passed by Parliament, provides New Zealand with an opportunity to address the social disparity experienced by sex workers so that they don't have to wait whilst the real social causes of prostitution are tackled.

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