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Report Shows Prostitution Reform Act Is Failing

media release
23 May 2008

Report Shows Prostitution Reform Act Is Failing To Accomplish Its Objectives

“The report released by the Prostitution Law Review Committee today clearly shows that the Prostitution Reform Act is not making life safer for many of New Zealand’s most vulnerable men, women and young people,” says Alex Penk, Maxim Institute’s Policy and Research Manager.

“The Act was billed as a way to minimise the harm that sex workers face. But prostitution is dangerous by its very nature, so the only way this could have been achieved was by assisting sex workers out of the industry. The Committee’s own research shows that the numbers involved in prostitution have at least stayed at pre-Act levels. Even then, community workers tell a different story to the Committee. They’ve seen rising numbers since the Act passed.”

“Even the Committee’s research shows that the Act has failed. Most worryingly there are still significant numbers working on the streets. It is well documented that street workers face even more dangers than those operating from brothels, yet these numbers have failed to drop,” says Mr Penk.

“In responding to the report, Associate Justice Minister, Lianne Dalziel, suggests that: ‘Removing the taint of illegality has empowered sex workers by reducing the opportunity for coercion and exploitation.’ Yet, she fails to concede that there is much more we must be doing.”

“The Act fails to provide alternatives for those caught up in prostitution. There is no pathway to help sex workers change their lives, and no recognition of the abuse that purchasers of sex are subjecting prostitutes to,” says Mr Penk.


Maxim Institute is an independent research and public policy think tank, incorporated as a charitable trust, www.maxim.org.nz.

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