Under Age Prostitution
21 April 2005
Under Age Prostitution: Child Protection Agencies Ask “Why Are Child Sex Offenders Not Prosecuted?”
ECPAT NZ and Stop Demand Foundation, two agencies that are committed to eliminating sexual exploitation of children are questioning the effectiveness of New Zealand legislation in relation to under age prostitution as indicated in the Ministry of Justice Report released this week.
The Report “The Nature and Extent of the Sex Industry in New Zealand” cites Police claims that some 210 children under the age of 18 years were identified as selling sex in a survey of the sex industry, with three-quarters being concentrated in one Police District. It is illegal under the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 to use in prostitution persons under the age of 18 years. That there is an active trade in the buying of sex from children and minors in this country is a fact borne out by Maori wardens and those working at grassroots levels.
Alan Bell, Director of ECPAT and Denise Ritchie of Stop Demand Foundation question police inaction over the lack of prosecutions of buyers of under age sex. They say “If one were to take the Police estimate of 210 minors being accessible for sex, and conservatively assume that those minors were accessible just one night per week, that sex is purchased from that minor by two males per week, we are talking about some 21,000 illegal sex transactions with minors annually.”
They ask “Why is it that there have been no prosecutions of buyers of under age sex since the law was introduced in mid-2003? Some 60% of these children and young people were identified by Police as being involved in street prostitution and therefore visible. The men who take advantage of them are also visible. A majority of these public transactions are taking place in one Police District. If the law was taken seriously then one would expect to see these predators appearing before the courts.”
The legislation provides a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment for anyone convicted of buying sex from a person under the age of 18 years.
A further disturbing fact in the Report is the involvement of gangs linked to the control of street prostitution, particularly involving the under aged.