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Child prostitution trivialised by Manukau Courts

Media Release 18 November 2008


Child prostitution trivialised by Manukau Courts


Men convicted of buying sex from children in South Auckland are being treated far too leniently by the Courts, says advocacy group Stop Demand Foundation.

Stop Demand’s comments follow a sentence of community work handed out this month by the Manukau District Court to 21-year old Adam Andrew Rika, convicted under the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 of buying sex from a person under 18 years.

Stop Demand’s founder Denise Ritchie says “There is a disturbing trend coming from the Manukau District Court that reveals that some prosecutors and some judges are totally out of touch with the seriousness of child sexual exploitation.”

In March this year, 41-year old Ross Wiperi received a paltry 200 hours community work by the Manukau District Court for buying sex from a child. Another child sexual exploiter, also sentenced to a meagre 200 hours community work, received name suppression. Last month, 38-year old Dennis Peter Kanara received one year’s supervision and three months community detention on similar charges. The maximum penalty for buying sex from a child is seven years imprisonment.

“Sentences of community work grossly trivialise the seriousness of the harm done to children sexually exploited through prostitution - psychologically, physically and emotionally - harm that is well documented in international research,” says Denise Ritchie. A 2006 federally-funded Australian study found that Sydney’s street prostitutes “are more likely to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder than soldiers returning from combat or police officers”.

”When New Zealand Courts treat the sexual exploitation of our children by adult men as a trifling misdemeanour, it is little wonder that this country has an appalling record of child abuse including child sex abuse. Weak sentences provide little deterrence to offenders. Judges imposing such sentences are sending a message to the community that the sexual exploitation of children is a low-level crime,” says Denise Ritchie.

In addition to tougher penalties, overseas studies have found two key deterrent factors in stopping men from buying sex generally: their spouse finding out and public exposure.


ENDS

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