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Select Com. Report on Street Prostitution Flawed

MEDIA RELEASE
11 SEPTEMBER 2006

Select Committee Report on Manukau’s Street Prostitution Bill flawed

Family First is disappointed that the Local Government and Environment Committee who heard submissions on the Manukau City Council (Control of Street Prostitution) Bill has recommended that it not be passed.

The Committee heard from many Manukau City residents (121 submissions in total and a petition signed by over 1200 residents supporting the Bill) who expressed concerns about the negative effects of street sex work and associated conduct in the area. These impacts include increased littering, noise and nuisance, a reduced sense of public safety, and a decline in property values.

“As well, there has been a large increase in street prostitution since the decriminalization of prostitution, and an increase in under-age prostitution, with reports of girls as young as 11 on the street being abused by purchasers of sex,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.

“The association of prostitution with gang and criminal behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual abuse and violence means that we are sentencing more and more young people and prostitutes to an unacceptable situation.”

The Committee’s report (with a dissenting view from the National party members) highlighted a number of areas of faulty logic
- they acknowledged that underage prostitutes were victims, yet were not prepared to protect them.
- they felt that a potential fine of $10,000 would create an incentive for staying in the industry and continue to commit a crime
- they believed that by criminalizing street prostitution, prostitutes would find it harder to leave the industry – yet there is no evidence that workers are leaving the industry now. In fact they are adding to it.
- the committee criticised Manukau’s restrictive bylaws towards brothels, including residential brothels, and suggested that it may have resulted in increased street prostitution – despite later acknowledging the merits of Tolerance Zones in restricted industrial areas
- they felt that this law would place further burden on an already stretched Police force – and then listed a number of other Acts including the Crimes Act, Misuse of Drugs Act and Summary Offences Act, which the “stretched” Police could use instead to restore law and order

“We would encourage Members of Parliament to see the weaknesses of this report,” says Mr McCoskrie, “and vote to support a Bill brought by the local Council with huge support from residents and families. The Committee has missed an opportunity to support a Bill which would reduce the chances of vulnerable members of society being harmed.”

ENDS

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