Title: Sex Work: Return of the Prohibitionists? Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 2nd September 2013 - 3:42pm1378093320 Article: 13903 Rights
Sixteenth century 'witches' who bore the brunt of moral panics. Who now? As the time draws closer for debate over the transphobic Manukau street sex work ban private member's bill, New Zealand First List MP Asenati Lole-Taylor, Auckland and Christchurch social conservatives are attacking sex workers again, arguing that the current government is doing "nothing" to halt street sex work within New Zealand  communities. According to Lole-Taylor, she has been approached by "local communities" concerned about street sex work, and she argued that "it is becoming more apparent" that non-legislative measures are "not working."  Again, nonsense. That is not what the Ministry of Justice and its Prostitution Law Review Committee have found. In fact, it is significant that Lole-Taylor seems to be the only one who wants to act as a 'moral entrepreneur' on this issue, and that local media have found nothing newsworthy in the recent conduct of street sex workers. Moreover, why is Lole-Taylor so obsessed with this issue? She's supposed to be New Zealand First's "welfare" spokesperson, but she seems to be concerned with virtually no other issue than her ill-advised crusade against street sex work.  Is this crusade attributable to bully pulpit tactics from the Manukau Ministers Network and other South Auckland and Auckland fundamentalists? Why do I suspect we'll probably witness an Investigate beat-up article on the subject, with that publication's usual social conservative ideological bias at the cost of objectivity, neutrality and balance? This woman and her allies in the Christian Right, Auckland Council and New Zealand First need to be stopped. Judging from New South Wales and other jurisdictions that have anti-soliciting bills in place, anti-soliciting bills do nothing to actually stop the real problems in given areas- alcoholism, drug abuse, violent crime, business flight and absence of employment opportunities. Maori and Pacific Island transsexual and cisgender street sex workers are just as much victims of such local community economic malaise as their fellow citizens outside the sex industry. Auckland Council, the Christian Right and Lole-Taylor appear to be completely uninterested in referring to actual investigative reports from government agencies in this context. All they seem to want to do is engage in fear-mongering and trying to foment an unsubstantiated moral panic that will have nothing but destructive consequences for the lives and health of street sex workers in Manukau City, Auckland, Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand. And as the time draws near for the second reading of the Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill, the Christian Right and fellow travellers are ramping up the rhetoric insofar as this dangerous  private members bill is concerned, and not only in Auckland. Granted, many of Manukau's street sex workers are fa'afafine or whakawahine, as opposed to those in Christchurch, but networking has occurred between Christchurch and Auckland religious social conservatives and anti-sexworker vigilantes over this issue.  In Christchurch, anti-sexworker Councillor Aaron Keown ran afoul of the law when he posted anti-sexworker signs threatening Christchurch street sex workers with arrest under the Summary Offences Act 1981. However, that legislation can only be invoked if sex workers commit an offence under the terms of that legislation, and as yet, there has been little evidence that is occurring in Christchurch. Quite rightly, Christchurch City Council officials took the signs down and clarified matters.  In its submission to the Local Government and Environmental Select Committee, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation stated its opposition to the Manukau City (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill. It noted that criminalising any aspect of adult sex work was an impediment to effective distribution of condoms and HIV prevention information to sex workers and might lead to escalated risk of unsafe sex from that quarter. It cited the UN Development Programme and the Global Commission on HIV and the Law and cited aforementioned Ministry of Justice reports into the operation of the Prostitution Law Reform Act. It might have also mentioned a recent Lancet article that indicates increased risk if transsexuals are not duly protected from discrimination in this context as well as within anti-discrimination laws.  Undeterred, Family First whinged that the Key administration was prevaricating over the Manukau City (Regulating Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill, which is, after all, a private members bill and not core government business, as well as Asenati Lole-Taylor's Prostitution Reform (Control of Street Prostitution) Bill, which is also a private member's bill and hasn't been pulled out of the ballot box yet- although meanwhile, conservative Epsom residents are getting het up about brothels. Brothels? This raises questions about whether the ultimate objective of Lole-Taylor, Auckland Council and Family First is the repeal of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, whereas beforehand, they "only" wanted to recriminalise street sex work.  I have no patience whatsoever with those who say this is not a "gay" issue. It is an LGBT issue, as I have noted repeatedly beforehand, and as a whole, our communities need to reject attacks on our vulnerable Maori and Pacific Island transsexual, fa'afafine and whakawahine street sex worker community members. Not Recommended: Asenati Lole-Taylor: "Government makes prostitution desirable" New Zealand First 26.07.2013: Family First: "Brothels should be banned from residential areas" Scoop: 29.08.2013: Recommended: Anna McClure: "Stand against sex workers shut down" 30.08.2013: Lincoln Tan: "Epsom Girls wants action on brothels" New Zealand Herald: 29.08.2013: Lincoln Tan: "Brothels upset Epsom neighbours" New Zealand Herald: 29.08.2013: "Brothels legally allowed- Council" Radio New Zealand: 29.08.2013: New Zealand AIDS Foundation: "Ban on prostitution in Manukau will negatively affect HIV management" NZAF: 18.02.2013: S.D.Baral et al: "Worldwide burden of HIV in transgender women: A systematic review and meta-analysis" Lancet Infectious Diseases: March 2013: 214-222: Craig Young - 2nd September 2013    
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