Illegal migrant prostitutes too ‘terrified’ to report exploitation

Stuff co.nz 18 March 2018
Migrant prostitutes working illegally on temporary visas are “terrified” they will be deported if they report exploitative pimps and abusive clients to authorities.

In the past year, 136 migrants suspected of coming here to carry out sex work were denied entry into New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand data revealed.

Sex work is the only occupation migrants on temporary visas are not legally allowed to take up.

However, migrants who have entered the country on temporary work, visitor, holiday or international student visas and work as prostitutes are being forced to carry out sexual acts without protection and often work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

Often temporary migrants, particularly international students, were unaware it was illegal for them to work in the sex industry, she said.

The application of the Immigration Act, section 19, in the Prostitution Reform Act deems it illegal for any temporary migrant to work as a prostitute or invest in any business that sells sexual services.

It was added into the Prostitution Reform Act to deter trafficking of international sex workers.

Since the decriminalisation of prostitution in New Zealand for citizens and permanent residents in 2003, the collective has argued that section 19 puts migrant prostitutes at risk of exploitation.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said last week that legal migrant workers were “very, very vulnerable” and did not receive enough protection if they blew the whistle on exploitative employers.

Eliminating migrant exploitation was his priority, however, and protective measures for migrant whistleblowers were still being decided.

Protection for all migrant workers, including illegal sex workers, was important, but he ruled out eliminating section 19 that makes it illegal for migrants to work or invest in the sex industry.

“That’s not something we would consider because we are concerned that by removing it, it could encourage sex trafficking.”

Immigration NZ acting assistant general manager Senta Jehle​ said the agency recognised that sex workers were vulnerable to exploitation.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/102248502/illegal-migrant-prostitutes-too-terrified-to-report-exploitation
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