Prostitution law reform not the answer | The Jackal

28 Mar 2013

Prostitution law reform not the answer

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

A church pastor says underage girls in south Auckland are being pimped out by their parents and as many as three generations of some families are working as prostitutes.

Pastor Trent Membrey of the contemporary Christian C3 Church said he and others from his parish had worked to offer support to underage girls, one as young as 11, who were working as prostitutes in Manurewa.

I hope the good Pastor informed the appropriate authorities and those authorities are targeting the men using underage sex workers?

His comments come after community leaders in the area announced a public meeting next month amid fears of a rising number of underage prostitutes in South Auckland, some as young as 13 said to be earning up to $600 a night.

Pastor Membrey said he and others from C3 Church had worked with young women who were being forced into prostitution.

"For a lot of them it's not their call. Their brothers and uncles are pimping them out ... a lot of them don't have a say,'' he said.

"There are three generations of [some families] out there ... it's an ongoing cycle. Some of these girls won't know any different because it's inbred in these families.''

Placing the blame solely on these girls and their families is a means to ignore the real cause for the apparent increase in underage prostitution; poverty.

In my opinion, it's desperation for money that's the reason for this kind of social dysfunction, and the blame can therefore be placed on a dysfunctional government that's failing to ensure there are adequate social services available for these young girls and their families.

Pastor Membrey said the toxic lifestyle was driven by drugs and alcohol and he believed police were doing all they could to keep underage girls off the streets.

He said police confiscated drugs and took home underage girls suspected of working as prostitutes but they immediately return to the streets.

"Their brothers and uncles are pimping them out" but the Police "took home underage girls suspected of working as prostitutes" anyway?

If that's the case, Pastor Membrey is basically saying that the police aren't doing their jobs properly. If there's evidence of underaged prostitution and that brothers and uncles are the perpetrators, simply taking these young girls back home to an often-abusive situation isn't the answer. Instead, we should be seeing an increase in the use of appropriate social services.

Despite Judith Collins recently declaring the government's law and order policy a success, there has actually been a steady increase in the number of charges resulting in convictions for sexual offences. This indicates that the problem of sexual abuse, including paedophilia is getting worse. In my opinion those worsening conditions are mainly due to social disintegration brought about by increased poverty and a lack of appropriate social services.

The main issue here is therefore a political one, whereby the government has caused an increase in poverty resulting in social dysfunction and certain MPs are now using the issue to try and change prostitution laws, which are clearly not the problem.

Yesterday, Scoop reported:

New Zealand First says the risks and dangers of street prostitution must be addressed for the benefit of both those working in the sex industry and society in general.

Social Policy spokesperson Asenati Lole-Taylor says alcohol and drug abuse, poor physical and mental health, and under-age prostitution are rampant among street sex workers.

“So far the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective has received about $8.6 million from the Ministry of Health to help tackle these issues. But there is another way that would prove to be effective.

“Our Prostitution Reform (Control of Street Prostitution) Amendment Bill would ban all street prostitution and confine sex work to brothels.

The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PDF) has worked well to reduce the amount of prostitutes being abused and the amount of sexual diseases being transmitted, both good indications that the current law doesn't need changing.

In my opinion, politicians trying to take advantage of what is essentially social dysfunction as a result of  an increase in poverty is entirely inappropriate!

Instead, the government needs to ensure the current laws are being properly enforced, social services are adequate and available and most importantly overal poverty is reduced... Only then will we see a reduction in such cases of social dysfunction.