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Survey shows support for prosecuting buyers of sex

Survey shows support for prosecuting buyers of sex

A high proportion of New Zealanders want prostitution reform.

But according to a new Colmar Brunton Research survey there is marked support for a law change so that the buyers of sex are prosecuted.

A Bill to reform prostitution, which is currently before Parliament, would decriminalise the sex industry completely. However, some countries—such as Sweden—have moved in the opposite direction, and are now prosecuting the clients of prostitutes rather than the women caught up in the trade. A recent survey carried out in Sweden showed that 80 percent of the population there support the new law.

The Colmar Brunton poll of 1,000 people aged 18 and above, carried out on behalf of Maxim Institute, asked "As you may know, parliament is presently reviewing the laws on prostitution. Would you support the idea of introducing a law to deter prostitution, by prosecuting men who pay to have sex?"

Considering that there has been little debate on the issue, there was surprising support for such a law.

Fewer than half overall were opposed to the idea of the buyer of sex being prosecuted, while 51 percent were either in favour or undecided.

Interestingly, there were marked differences between cities. In Auckland, which has the greatest number of prostitutes and the trade is more visible, 43 percent of people were in favour of a law prosecuting buyers, while 39 percent were against. This contrasted with Christchurch, where 42 percent were in favour or undecided, but 58 percent were against.

As might be expected, support around the country was stronger among women, with 44 percent in favour of a law to prosecute buyers of sex, and only 41 percent opposed. This was also reflected among homemakers, many of whom are obviously concerned at the effect that prostitution has on marriage. Nearly half of all full-time homemakers would support a law, while only 39 percent were not in favour. There was also very high support from ‘non-working’ people such as students and beneficiaries, with 61 percent supporting the Swedish law approach.

Support for prosecution of purchasers of sex increased consistently towards the lower socio-economic groups. While only 32 percent clearly favoured prosecution in the top two socio-economic groups (20 percent were undecided), at the other end of the socio-economic scale only four in 10 did not support the idea.

But the highest levels of support came from a perhaps surprising quarter, young people. Amongst teenagers questioned by Colmar Brunton 72% were in favour of prosecuting the buyers of sex, and nearly half of all those aged under 30.

The survey has a margin of error of ± 3.2% and was conducted between 23 October and 4 November 2002.

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