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Citizens Advice Bureaux Back Prostitution Reform

Citizens Advice Bureaux Back Prostitution Reform Bill

EMBARGOED UNTIL 4PM, WEDNESDAY 6 JUNE, 2001

The New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux has joined the YWCA and the National Council of Women in supporting the Prostitution Reform Bill. The Association today presented its submission on the Bill to Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Select Committee.

Association CEO Nick Toonen said the Bill seeks to afford sex workers and their employers the same rights, protections, and responsibilities in employment and occupational safety and health that all other people in society have.

“The Association has come out in support of this Bill as a necessary step in recognising the human rights of sex workers and improving their safety and conditions of work.

“The illegal nature of sex workers’ activities is a barrier to their using our impartial information and advice services, and means that workers in the sex industry generally do not have the same rights and access to services as others.”

Mr Toonen said that the country’s 89 Citizens Advice Bureaux receive a lot of general enquiries in the area of employment conditions and occupational safety and health.

“Employment related issues is one of our top five categories of enquiry. Over the past two years we have handled over 30,000 enquiries in this area.

“It is not surprising, however, that Citizens Advice Bureaux receive few known enquiries from sex workers in relation to their work. This is because sex workers know they have few rights, and may be fearful of disclosing their occupation.

“We are aware of no other industry where employment rights and the tenets of occupational safety and health are ignored, and believe it is in everyone’s interests to address this situation, as the Bill does.

“Clearly there are a number of points of view on the Bill, some focussed on the morality of sex work. The Association believes that legislation should protect individuals and the community, rather than enforce any particular view of morality, and supports this Bill on human rights grounds.”

Mr Toonen welcomed the provisions in the Bill designed to protect children under the age of 18 from exploitation and involvement in the sex industry.
“We are concerned that only adults be able to work in the sex industry, and that these adults be protected by the law in the same way as any other person.”

For further information contact

Nick Toonen, Chief Executive Officer, NZACAB, phone (04) 382 8759 or 021 135 6085

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