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Speech: Manukau City Council (Regulation Of Prostitution In Specified Places) Bill - Te Ururoa Flavell

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Te Ururoa Flavell
Te Ururoa Flavell

Mr Speaker I want to stand to make our position clear on this Bill.

We recognise the roles that Maori might take up- just as any other New Zealander - in the wider sex industry, some roles here and there.

There will be some who are street-based workers - and the research tells us that Maori are more likely to be represented here than in managed or private businesses.

There may be Maori who are managers or owners; and there may be Maori who access commercial sexual services.

But there is also the wider group of whanau who are affected by either their family member's involvement in the sex industry; or simply as members of communities in which the business of prostitution or commercial services plays out.

Mr Speaker, prominent in our thinking around any legislation to do with the sex industry, is the health and public safety, not just of the workers, but the greater community as a whole.

The literature tells us that people enter the industry primarily for economic reasons. Most sex workers are female and female workers most often cited the need to pay for household expenses as well as support their families.

Ironically, it is the working conditions - the flexible working hours and the ability to earn money readily, often exceeding the minimum hourly wage, that attracts many of the participants.

Some research provided to the Prostitution Law Review Committee also provided some interesting ideas around how to encourage workers to exit the industry.

Transgender sex workers spoke of the lack of acceptance in society and the feeling of belonging that they got from working with people who were more similar to them.

Young sex workers also spoke of the feeling of acceptance and the family-like atmosphere they got from working on the streets.

So there's some bigger issues around the existence of the sex industry that need to be tackled before one simply imposes a ban prohibiting the business as in the case of this particular Bill.

All of that background in place then, when the Ministry of Justice reported back on 1 May 2009 about the impact of the Prostitution Law Reform, it concluded, and I quote, that "localised approaches are likely to be more effective than legislation' for dealing with the issue.

It recommended the council, the police, residents, business-owners and sex workers work together to address community tensions and anti-social behaviour set out by other colleagues in the House this afternoon.

So it's very hard to understand why Mr Hawkins would ignore that advice and put a bill up anyway.

But even more worrying, is the extent of the new authorities that Mr Hawkins is seeking to invest in the police to deal with prostitution - granting officers powers of arrest that would enable them to stop and search vehicles and demand passengers state their private details - merely on suspicion of committing an offence under this Act. This is something we don't find favour with.

And if the passengers - frightened, embarrassed, or fearful of being outed - happen to object, they'll be stung anyway with a thousand dollar fine.

There are so many other things that could have been to increase the health and safety of people in Manukau city.

For example, appropriately targeted and well-designed programmes can offer support, education and advocacy to young Maori and other involved in prostitution.

The programmes provided by Te Aronga Hou Trust provide an example. Te Aronga Hou provides services to those soliciting on the streets of Counties-Manukau.

The outreach service, Toro Atu, is a mobile service offering information, and support. The Awhinatia service links takataapui and youth with appropriate support services. The knowledge and training service, Matauranga, provides wellbeing education and awareness programmes, personal development and vocational rehabilitation.

Mr Speaker we do not support this Bill going forward. We believe it sets an undesirable precedent in creating a local exception to the Prostitution Law Reform Act.

And finally, we believe that those involved in the sex industry are regulated far more effectively by family and peers than by legislation and the police.

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