Vice Squad
Monday, January 10, 2005
No Prostitution Reform Repeal Referendum in New Zealand

In June, 2003, by a one-vote margin, the New Zealand Parliament passed a prostitution policy reform measure that "legalised street soliciting and decriminalised brothel keeping, pimping and living off the earnings of prostitution..." A campaign to collect signatures to force a referendum on the reform began immediately. Some 273,000 (10 percent of the electorate) signatures were needed, but organisers were "only" able to collect 200,000 or so signatures; so, no repeal measure will appear on the upcoming ballot for parliamentary elections.

The MP who sponsored the reform legislation maintains a website devoted to the issue. A one-year post-legislation assessment is included on the site, as is a series of questions and answers. Here's a sample:

Why not criminalise the clients instead?

It wouldn't work. In practice it would force sex workers to work in more dangerous ways and places, in order to protect their clients, who are their source of income.

Kerb-crawling laws in Britain (which penalise street clients) have made things more difficult for street workers. They dare not take so long to assess the prospective client before joining him in his car. This increases the risk of assault.

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