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Sex trafficking under spotlight

Media Release 20 June 2012

Sex trafficking under spotlight

New Zealand is a source country for underage girls subjected to internal sex trafficking, says the latest US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released today.

New Zealand is one of 186 countries who have come under scrutiny in the annual report.

The Report states that “A small number of girls and boys, often of Maori or Pacific Islander descent, are trafficked domestically to engage in street prostitution while some are victims of gang-controlled trafficking rings.”

Stop Demand’s founder Denise Ritchie says “While there is an acknowledged, relatively small underage prostitution problem in New Zealand, our legislation does not automatically identify all such persons under 18 as trafficked persons, as is the case with the US TIP definition.

“Nonetheless, it is unacceptable that child prostitution persists in New Zealand and that men who are sexually exploiting our children are not being prosecuted, named and shamed.”

The Report also notes that “Foreign women, including some from China and Southeast Asia, may be recruited from their home countries by labor agents for the purpose of prostitution and may be at risk of coercive practices.” It states that while a trafficking investigation identified and provided services to “potential victims” of trafficking, our government did not formally identify any persons as trafficking victims during the year.

Stop Demand says that this is most likely due to the narrow anti-trafficking legal framework that currently exists within New Zealand. Denise Ritchie says “In recent years there has been media exposure of the plight of some foreign women, lured to work illegally in New Zealand’s decriminalised sex industry, yet finding themselves in “slave-like” conditions. Perversely, these women fall outside our current trafficking framework, which needs to be redressed.”

Aside from sex trafficking, the report on New Zealand also refers to disturbing practices against foreign persons subjected to forced labour including within the fishing industry.

Stop Demand supports the calls on our government, to expand current legislation to include domestic trafficking and to broaden its framework to comply with international norms.

The TIP Report forms part of a growing groundswell of agencies in the USA, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, France and Israel that are taking a “stop demand” approach to sex trafficking. But for male demand for commercial sex services – driving the endless supply of mostly female bodies of varying ages, ethnicities and characteristics - sex trafficking would not exist.

The 3-page report on New Zealand can be viewed at http://bit.ly/Mdy7vG


© Scoop Media

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