Thursday, September 26, 2002

Nick Venter

Mixed views on sex workers put forward

The woman from the Prostitutes Collective called them "sex workers". The bloke from the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards called them "prostitutes".

Proponents and opponents of prostitution lined up yesterday for one last shot at influencing the select committee considering Labour MP Tim Barnett's bill to decriminalise prostitution.

Prostitutes Collective national co-ordinator Catherine Healy told the justice and electoral select committee that decriminalising prostitution would make a significant difference to the daily lives of sex workers.

It would reduce exploitation by brothel owners who fined workers for being late and wearing the wrong clothes and reduce the likelihood of coercion. It would not increase the size of the sex industry.

"Most people do not grow up in this country thinking 'I am going to be a sex worker'," she said.

Society for the Promotion of Community Standards secretary David Lane said prostitution exploited women and children and was a human rights violation.

"It involves the subjugation of the service provider by the client in a way that is comparable to forms of slavery," he said.

However, he seemed unsure whether prostitutes were more sinned against or sinners.

Asked by National MP Simon Power why his society had described prostitutes as "predators" in its submission on the bill, Mr Lane said there was a strong predatory aspect to prostitution.

"There is a weakness within many clients which many psychologists describe as an addiction and by targeting certain men these service providers can in fact play the role of predators," he said.

Jenny Horst, spokeswoman for the privately-funded Maxim Institute, called on New Zealand to follow Sweden's lead and prosecute the buyers of sexual services.

She said decriminalising prostitution would increase prostitute numbers and normalise the abuse inherent in the activity.

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Created: September 28, 2002
Last modified: September 28, 2002
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