NZME and Herald slammed for sex trade ads for ‘young girls'
A call for action to stop sexual violence against women and children.
23 August 2018
NZME and Herald slammed for ongoing sex trade ads for ‘young girls’
Three months after the New Zealand Herald came under fire for its role in sex crimes against an Auckland teenager, the paper continues to advertise ‘young girls’ for sex.
In a case that saw Kasmeer Lata and Avneesh Sehga jailed for their roles in some 1,000 sex crimes against Lata’s daughter, the Court heard that the girl was advertised through the Herald, along with other advertisers, as one of two ‘HOT SEXY busty Indian girls’ aged 18, when she was in fact aged 14. The girl was first sold to men for sex on her 15th birthday.
Stop Demand, which has long-worked to combat child sexual exploitation including underage prostitution, says that despite robust communications between it and NZ Herald’s parent company NZME, the Herald is still running what it describes as ‘unacceptable’ sex trade ads.
Stop Demand founder and barrister Denise Ritchie points to Herald ads over the past week that offer up a ‘New young girl (18+)’, ‘NEW YOUNG Asian girl 18+’, ‘… 3 beautiful young girls(18+) on special’ and “BARBIE DOLL new hot young ...’ with no age stated, as examples.
Denise Ritchie says, “Despite the shocking Lata case, the Herald continues to run ads that offer ‘new young girls’ for sex and even young girls ‘on special’. These ads appear in an ‘Adult’ column. Adult females are ‘women’ and words like ‘young’ and ‘girl’ should be prohibited. To sex buyers, and predators, such words offer a perception of youthful, underage innocence; or ‘barely legal’, when ‘18+’ is tacked on.” In the Lata case, ‘18’ was meaningless and false. The victim was sexually violated by men some 1,000 times. None was charged.
In early July, NZME CEO Michael Boggs, through his lawyer, assured Stop Demand that processes would be tightened. Stop Demand understands that before placing ads, brothel operators are now required to tick a box to verify that those under their control are over 18 and citizens. But, says Ritchie, as no proof is required that process is rather futile. That, and the wording of ongoing ads, suggests Mr Boggs’s assurances are little more than ‘weasel words’.
Stop Demand says underage prostitution is a concerning issue in New Zealand. Last week lawyer Quentin Haines admitted hiring underage girls including a 14-year-old for sex. This week a woman was jailed for planning to sell her 10-year-old granddaughter to 75-year-old Andrew Davie – a crime the Herald ironically called ‘vile’, despite its own ‘young girls’ ads.
Stop Demand urges Michael Boggs and NZME board members Peter Cullinane, Carol Campbell, David Gibson and Barbara Chapman to ‘up their game’ and better protect their brand. It cites the examples of WINZ, Seek and Trade Me who refuse to run such ads.