OPINION: Time to ban street prostitution?

OPINION: Time to ban street prostitution?


Monday 05th May, 2014

The legalisation of street prostitution in Christchurch is fast becoming the city’s great shame. In 2003, we became the first country in the world to decriminalise prostitution. Former MP Tim Barnett and his crew said the law would give protection for street sex workers and give them confidence to make rape complaints knowing they wouldn’t be judged by law enforcement officers. The law’s aim was built around the principle of harm minimisation – identifying genuine harm caused by prostitution and writing law and policy to minimise them. Tell that to Mellory Manning’s family.   A jury found a former gang prospect guilty of the street sex worker’s murder by beating her to death in 2008. In 2005, prostitute Suzie Sutherland was murdered and her body was dumped on Peterborough St. That same year, a former high school friend of mine, who tuned to the sex trade, was murdered by being repeatedly run over by the killer. Last month a sex worker was sexually assaulted on Bealey Ave. The same night, another sex worker was punched.

 

These crimes would have still have happened, even if prostitution was illegal, but I do wonder if the liberalisation of our laws has made the situation worse. Last week on CTV, a new programme exposed the seedy underworld of Manchester Street. Perhaps the most disturbing segment was the interview of a young mother who freely admitted pimping out her teenage daughter for sex. The mother said “she’s got the body for it, the intelligence and the talent for [sex working].” She said underage prostitution is a “huge” in Christchurch, but no one can do anything about it, and says many of the girls on the streets are 14 and 15. She went on to say “if you’ve got it, flaunt it, sell it.”This woman is a sad indictment on what happens with you liberalise laws. Co-author of the prostitution law reform bill, Georgina Beyer, admitted she was naive when the trade was legalised. “We thought, naively, that with the liberalisation of prostitution, it would not be desirable necessarily to be a street worker." Beyer asked the Justice Minister to amend the Prostitution Reform Act, to no avail.Sadly, those with no brains will always  take advantage of liberalised laws, and there will be lowlifes who will go even further by taking advantage of their own daughters. How many more murders will it take in this city to amend the law?