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'Sex work' is inherently high-risk and harmful - Family First

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Family First NZ says that the police are right to highlight the activity and concerns around the death of Christchurch 22-year-old Renee Duckmanton, and that statistics and testimonies show that ‘sex workers’ are involved in a high-risk and harmful work and the law has failed them.

"Although Nigel Latta is right to argue that her death is tragic under any circumstances and that she is much more than just a ‘sex worker’, the sad reality is that the profession is harmful and dangerous, and more and more vulnerable people are becoming victims because of the flawed decriminalisation of prostitution," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

"Decriminalisation has failed to achieve its stated objectives of improving the safety, health and welfare or the conditions of the workers. What it has achieved is greatly improving the conditions for pimps and brothel owners."

The government report on prostitution after decriminalisation found that street workers experience 2 to 3 times more violence than other workers, and actual serious violence (rape, holding against will, and physical violence) are reported less than 20% of the time.

"What other business or sector of society in New Zealand would tolerate this - and yet the sex industry is sold as a success story. Where is the Occupational Safety and Health? No other work employment sector has a risk factor where rape is considered an inherent part of the work, and why would we want a family member to be in a type of work where there is a 35% chance of being sexually molested i.e forced to accept sex from a man they did not want to."

"Prostitution is harmful to workers and communities 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," says Mr McCoskrie.

A delegation of former prostitutes accompanied by their advocates appeared before the Select Committee in Parliament in 2014 and said that prostitution had wrecked their lives, many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, that their troubled upbringings attracted them to prostitution, and that the only solution is to prosecute buyers in order to help prostitutes out of the industry. "Our government has made legal that which we as a society fail to see as legitimate," said Elizabeth Subritzky from the organisation Freedom from Sexual Exploitation (FFSE).

Jaewyn who is a former prostitute posted on her Facebook page: "Sadly another prostitute called Renee is murdered in Christchurch. My heart goes out to her family and friends. And it reminds me again to say that no one enters prostitution because everything in their life is fine. Theres always a reason. I've NEVER met a prostitute who hasn't had past abuse of some kind, and often its sexual. Its not a normal job and has one of the highest risk factors of any job with violence towards them. You never know if your next client is going to rape you or even murder you. When our government legalized prostitution, they made it into a so called normal job. And it NEVER will be. Prostitution damages your soul and can take years to heal even if you have left it a long time ago. Believe me i know. I was diagnosed with PTSD years after i left because of it. I don't want anyone else to go threw the same."

"How can we be serious about reducing sexual violence against women when the state legitimises the sexual abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people. There is a healthy stigma against prostitution - and for good reason. The politicians are simply burying their head in the sand," said Mr McCoskrie.

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