Prostitutes Collective wants migrant sex work legalised

  • 02/09/2018

The head of the Prostitutes Collective hopes Government action will tackle exploitation in the industry.

Immigration NZ is gathering information to better understand challenges faced by migrant sex workers, and educating the sex industry on hiring only New Zealand citizens to abide by the Prostitution Reform Act.

Dame Catherine Healy says migrants and backpackers work illegally when they're desperate for money, and Immigration needs to take punitive measures off the table to fully understand problems in the industry.

"We're hoping that they'll bring to light some of the scenarios some of the sex workers are experiencing."

Dame Catherine says backpackers illegally falling into sex work fear deportation too much to report crimes.

"They're allowed to do any other kind of work except sex work, and they run out of money and do sex work and then they're compromised, fearful of being deported."

The Prostitution Reform Act only allows New Zealand citizens to work in the industry.

"We don't want to see anyone harmed by immigration law in a way where they're cut off from reporting if they're in vulnerable circumstances," said Ms Healy.

The Prostitutes Collective wants Section 19 of the Prostitution Reform Act changed to make sex work made legal for migrants.

"Section 19 was introduced as an anti-trafficking initiative, and of course all it has done is feed a kind of tier of vulnerabilities," Dame Catherine told RNZ.

"Definitely it was well-intentioned, but it has had a predictable effect of creating an underground population of sex workers who would then become vulnerable."

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has recommended changing Section 19.