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     News: Fine clients to get hookers off the street

    Sexual Violence By IRENE CHAPPLE - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 6 May 2007

    A review of prostitution laws will propose fining clients who buy sex off street workers in an effort to limit the industry to brothels.
    The prostitution industry has been under review by a United Future-led group and the Ministry of Justice since it was legalised in 2003. Both reports have considered numbers of prostitutes now working, health and safety issues, and anecdotal stories around women being brought into New Zealand specifically to work in the industry. Inland Revenue figures on the number of prostitutes are not available because there is no industry tax code, but there are believed to be around 6000 in New Zealand. The Prostitution Working Group, made up of United Future MP Gordon Copeland, former United Future MP Larry Baldock, and Labour MP Marian Hobbs, was part of United Future's confidence and supply agreement with Labour. The report will be released next month and will contain at least three major recommendations. Copeland said the review group - which had met with around 243 people representing city councils, residents, and prostitution and welfare groups - had pinpointed several legal issues for improvement. Copeland said legalised brothels meant there was no need for street prostitution, which carried more dangers than working in a brothel. "We would look to bring in sanctions for buyers on the street... there are people as young as 12 out there ." Copeland, who voted against the act when it passed by just one vote, said the group's aim was to get rid of street prostitution. He said Christchurch people, in particular, had raised concerns about the number of prostitutes working there. "People living in Manchester Street came to us in big numbers." Penalties for buyers would be "an absolute key recommendation" of the report, which had "huge support" from women's groups. It would also re-introduce policing of the industry to crack down on underage prostitution and violent behaviour by clients. Copeland said the report would also recommend halving the number of prostitutes who can work in suburban brothels from four to two, and cracking down on underage prostitutes by getting at least two forms of identification for brothel workers. However, the Prostitution Law Review Committee chair Paul Fitzharris - a former police assistant commissioner - said punishing clients was not necessarily a deterrent and some prostitutes wanted to work on the streets. Fitzharris also rejected Copeland's claim that prostitute numbers had increased four-fold. He said research conducted by his committee - which will make its final report next year - showed numbers had stayed steady or decreased. Copeland said he believed young people dressed in "hoodies" - rather than mini- skirts - were operating as prostitutes and had not been counted. However, Fitzharris said his committee's figures, collated by police and the Prostitutes' Collective, was the most accurate count ever done. Both had heard anecdotal evidence of more Asian sex workers, some brought into the country specifically for the job. Fitzharris warned against reading too much into anecdotal evidence, but one strip club owner, Tony Garraway of Firecats in Hamilton, said the phenomena had ruined conditions for New Zealand prostitutes. Garraway said women from countries such as Thailand and China were charging as little as $50 a job and undercutting the locals. He said there were also health issues because the industry was no longer being closely monitored. "I blame it on the fact they legalised it and nobody did any research on what was going to happen, they left it wide open."

    Associated Topics

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex Industry

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