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Labour’s Response on Sex-for-Rent Ironic

Labour’s Response on Sex-for-Rent Ironic

The Labour Party’s “shock, horror” response to the exposure of a growing sex-for-rent trend amongst some landlords and tenants is ironic given Labour was behind normalising the sale and purchase of commercial sexual services, says a group that addresses prostitution.

In her media release of yesterday, Labour’s Spokeswoman for Women Ruth Dyson says: “Reports today that women are being offered free rent in exchange for sex are shocking.” She had earlier said, "I found it really sickening, and then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, 'Wow, this is the country I live in and this is what is happening to it'."

Stop Demand Foundation, a group that addresses demand factors driving the global sexual exploitation of women, notes that Ms Dyson and her colleagues have been avid supporters of decriminalising and destigmatising the sale and purchase of sexual services, a trade in which payment can be made in cash or “in kind” including drugs, food or accommodation.

Stop Demand founder, Denise Ritchie, says “Labour’s handwringing needs to be reserved for itself and the impact of its own policies. The selling of sexual services is overwhelmingly by women and out of economic hardship – a hardship some men are happy to exploit. If this comes as a ‘shock’ to Ms Dyson and her colleagues, that reflects a naivety about the power, economic and gender imbalances that underpin the global sex trade.”

Stop Demand, which supports the Nordic model of prostitution that prohibits the purchase of sexual services and supports sellers who wish to exit prostitution, notes that if New Zealand had followed the Nordic model that has been adopted in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Canada, these landlords could be prosecuted. But not here.

Denise Ritchie says, “Ironically, it is Labour and Green MPs who have repeatedly mocked the Nordic model, despite it being adopted by three of the four top countries in the Global Gender Gap – Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Under the Nordic model these landlords could be prosecuted for purchasing sexual services.”

“By contrast, New Zealand’s liberal laws on prostitution opens the door to all kinds of sexual exploitation,” says Ritchie. “Decriminalisation not only removes the stigma and legal barrier to purchasing sex, it endorses messages that men and boys can view women as commodities to purchase and sexually use at whim. This latest revelation might be a surprise to Labour, but not to us. These landlords are merely doing what the law allows. Sadly, it’s a case of ‘We reap what we sow’.”

The Nordic model of prostitution has two goals: to curb male demand for sexual services that is fuelling global sex trafficking, and to promote equality between men and women.


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