Good news on the effects of the New Zealand prostitution law

The release of an official report on the effects of decriminalisation of prostitution in New Zealand has confirmed that it has had the expected positive effects (although of course it is by no means a panacea).

The number of sex workers has not increased, and workers reported that they knew about their rights, felt more able to say “no” to acts they did not want to perform, and that there had been some improvement in protection from violence.

The report was based on studies by the Christchurch School of Medicine and Victoria University’s Crime and Justice Research Centre, and the committee chaired by a former assistance police commissioner, so it would have to be, I’d suggest, treated with respect. (Although experience suggests that it won’t be.)

The government release on the subject adds:

The report shatters several myths with the following findings:
• Coercion is not widespread.
• Sex workers are more likely to be the victims of crime, rather than offenders.
• The links between crime and prostitution are tenuous and the report found no evidence of a specific link between them. The link between under-aged prostitutes and youth gangs is often a case of underage people hanging around with friends who happen to be in youth gangs.
• The reasons people joined and stayed in the sex industry are complex, however money was the main reason.
• Fewer than 17 per cent said they are working to support drug or alcohol use, although when broken down by sector street-based sex workers are more likely to report needing to pay for drugs or alcohol (45 per cent).
• The perceived scale of a ‘problem’ in a community can be directly linked to the amount and tone of media coverage it gets.
• Much of the reporting on the numbers of sex workers and underage involvement in prostitution has been exaggerated.
• There is no link in New Zealand between the sex industry and human trafficking.

The complete report can be found here.

Oddly, despite regular excited coverage about the “Swedish model” of criminalising the clients of prostitutes (of which the government there has refused any serious academic scrutiny whatsoever), there’s been no media coverage of this outside New Zealand that Google News can locate. There’s not even been much coverage in New Zealand – although perhaps that reflects the fact the decriminalisation has been widely accepted in the country.

15 Comments

  • June 8, 2008 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Good stuff natalie.

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  • June 14, 2008 - 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as New Zealanders, you last comment is probably bang on.

    Also the people likely to be frothing at the mouth about prostitution are rubbing their hands with glee after the high court just ruled that most of the abortions preformed in this country are being done so illegaly due to liberal readings of our conservative law.

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  • July 8, 2008 - 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I am a 72 year old man, with a severe congenital speech impediment and other disabilities. While I believe in pritecting women at all cost, I also believe in legalized prostitution.

  • Andreas Berglund
    July 17, 2008 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

    You should know that the Swedish model hasn’t had any positive effects whatsoever. It’s also very unpopular here. The problem is that being for decriminalization of prostitution seems to be a sure fire way to kill a political career in spite of the laws unpopularity. For some odd reason I can’t explain all party organizations support the current legislation.

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  • Keith Underhill
    September 14, 2009 - 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I am appalled by Caroline Lucas and her attempts to change Green Party policy on this.
    Is she the new Jacqie Smith?
    I was going to vote Green in a marginal Ward where the Greens only lost by 50 votes Last time. I am having serious second thoughts now (I hope she loses Brighton Pavilion!)

  • Mr John
    September 15, 2009 - 12:32 pm | Permalink

    this will sound very un PC, but during my time in NZ I used the parlours a lot. A couple of observations/relevations I had from that time ere:

    1. no one really finds a strung out drugged up girl attractive – they simply could not compete with the healthly woman (they had to because each establishment provided a choice of up to 10 woman.

    2. the woman did not find it demeaning (or at least hid it well). There was some genuine good times with woman who were having fun with you. Put it this way I have never found demeaning woman a turn on (and if you want to know I used the brothels because I didnt want to lie and bullshit my way into one night stands or inimatcy with womann when I had no intention of entering a relaationship).

    3. some women were really into it. especially it you reasonably good looking, respectful, had an imagination, and were prepared to show them a good time. Amazing what a bottle of bubbles and an extra girl did for the sexual/ fanatasy dynamic.

  • October 18, 2009 - 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Re Keith’s comment, I promise you Caroline is NOT the new Jacqui Smith. here are people of goodwill on both sides of this debate: I have a strong view formulated by reading the evidence and talking to sex workers, but I can accept thaat others have different views. Please do vote for Caroline – better than another Tory MP!

  • July 5, 2010 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Women Issues these days are mostly about women empowerment and equal rights among men.`.,

  • February 27, 2011 - 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Hello:

    I am writing a paper on how well, or not, legalized prostitution is working out in the places where it is.

    I have heard conflicting reports about New Zealand. Some positive, such as this blog–other reports that it is slowly but perceptibly, increasing the same problems as Amsterdam (which really is in a mess.)money laundering, organized crime and sex-trafficking, including underage children.

    I would appreciate ANY brief sentences and insight anyone may have with this topic.

    Thank you!

    aitch5@hotmail.com

    H Slavic
    Denver, CO
    USA

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