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Law Change to Ban Underage Stripping Welcomed

Law Change to Ban Underage Stripping Welcomed

Nelson MP, Nick Smith, is welcoming new legislation that will make it unlawful to employ any person under the age of 18 as a stripper.

"This new law sends a powerful message to those involved in the sex industry to be very sure of the age of women they employ. The penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment is a vast improvement on the current law that leaves police powerless to respond to blatant exploitation of vulnerable teenagers," says Dr Smith.

A fortnight ago, Dr Smith highlighted the case of a 15 year-old Nelson girl in the care of the Department of Child, Youth and Family, who was allegedly working as a stripper at Visions Revue Bar in Hardy Street. He called for a law change and said he would sponsor a Member's Bill if the Government did not respond.

"I find it ironic that last week Child, Youth and Family Minister, Ruth Dyson, dismissed my calls for a law change, as did the Children's Commissioner, Cindy Kiro, yet only days later a Bill is introduced by the Justice Minister to do just as I suggested.

"I commend Phil Goff for recognising there is a loophole in the law, and that my calls for a law change were well justified," Dr Smith says.

The Crimes Amendment Bill (No 2) creates a new offence for sexual exploitation, which includes employing any person under 18 for the purpose of performance or display, that involves the exposure of that person's private parts, including breasts, and carries a prison term of up to 14 years. The bill has been tabled, but will not receive its first reading until the New Year.

"I am pleased some good has come out of this tragic Nelson case where the law was found wanting.

"This young woman is still on the run under the Department of Child, Youth and Family's failed community care model. My next challenge is to persuade the Government that the Department must change its policy and provide secure residential care and education for out of control young people, before they commit a serious offence or are hurt in a tragedy," concluded Dr Smith.

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