Family First NZ is labeling the report released today by the Prostitution Review Committee as biased, flawed, and failing to heed the concerns of the community and police.
“Even from the outset, the committee was ‘stacked’,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, “and has failed to have fair representation of people both for and against the decriminalisation of prostitution. Of the eleven members, our observation is that only three or four would have been against decriminalisation. This is hardly an unbiased approach.”
“There is also concern that the Prostitutes Collective did the one-on-one interviewing which also reeks of bias.”
Their claims of decreased numbers are inconsistent with what the Prostitution Law Review Committee’s report on the State of the Sex Industry in NZ tabled in Parliament in 2005 found, what Streetreach (an organisation working on the streets with prostitutes) has claimed, what prostitutes themselves have said, and what the police have observed. The report acknowledges the difficulty in a true estimate of the numbers of sex workers.
A police sting in January found that 16 teenagers aged between 13 and 17 were prostituting themselves in South Auckland, as well as houses being tenanted by gangs accommodating under-age prostitutes.
“If underage prostitution is exploitation, why isn’t adult prostitution,” says Mr McCoskrie. “It is ironic that the report says that there are ‘many negative consequences’ for under age people in prostitution including ‘physical, psychological and emotional harm’, yet other prostitutes are assumed to be immune from this harm.”
“The police also need more rights and powers to deal with underage prostitution. Police need to use prostitutes as evidence which is virtually impossible and they are not even able to demand to see ID’s, have no right of entry into brothels, and brothel owners are not required to maintain a record of the age identification of sex workers or provide it to police. Sources have told Family First that parlours are still exploiting workers because the workers are more focused on earning a living than a possible infringement of their rights.”
“Prostitution is harmful to workers and communities,” says Mr McCoskrie, “and the association of prostitution with gang and criminal behaviour, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexual abuse and violence means that we are sentencing more and more vulnerable people to an unacceptable situation.”
“The recent opposition to a residential based brothel in the Wellington area and attempts by Manukau City Council to tackle the problems of street prostitution shows that communities are not accepting the liberalised laws.”
“This is a politically expedient report that attempts to whitewash the damaging outcomes of a flawed law change,” says Mr McCoskrie.