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Prostitution Bill ignores most major concerns

Maxim Institute

Prostitution Bill ignores most major concerns

The Select Committee reviewing prostitution law reform has ignored virtually every major concern raised by city councils, police, feminists and others who consider that the proposed Bill will raise a host of problems if introduced.

The Bill has been reported back to parliament with only cosmetic changes from that which raised the concerns of civic authorities around the country.

It is also significant that the report was sent back to Parliament with only a bare majority in favour. Five of the 11 Select Committee members raised severe objections to the Bill which they feel have not been addressed.

The majority report acknowledged that the Committee could reach no agreement on whether there should be some form of licencing for brothels. The committee recommends that there be no controls, even though the NZ Police told the Committee that organised crime groups are involved in many aspects of the sex industry in New Zealand.

The Police said that brothels provide not only income for gangs, but also opportunities for money laundering and distribution of drugs. The Bill in fact removes the ability of Police to have any direct with brothels, except to check on whether under-age women are being employed. The Committee also wants the Police to destroy any records they hold in relation to prostitution.

A number of city councils warned the Committee of town planning problems which would arise if brothels are unrestricted.

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The revised Bill has ignored their advice that the existing law (such as the Resource Management Act and the Local Government Act) cannot deal with the offence that prostitution can cause if their activities migrate to the suburbs.

Evidence had been presented to the Committee of neighbours already at their wits end through discarded needles, used condoms, noise, fighting and drunken men.

However, the Committee majority says it does not want to restrict activities in any way.

Most importantly, the report gave no consideration at all to the overwhelming evidence that the act of prostitution is harmful to women. Maxim Institute presented the Select Committee with a summary of evidence from several hundred research projects around the world which showed clearly that prostitutes overwhelmingly have a background of childhood sexual abuse, and that prostitution instutionalises abuse in their lives and causes severe psychological and physical harm.

The deeply confused nature of the majority report is indicated by its statement on the one hand that it condemns any suggestion that sex work can be considered a suitable vocation or employment option, and its removal on the other hand of virtually all controls on the “industry”.

The Bill’s sponsor, Tim Barnett, in fact showed more clearly his true motive when he told a TV1 Assignment programme last week that he would love to see a chain of brothels all round New Zealand.

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