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Auckland transgender sex workers at risk

Wed 22 Apr 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Video footage showing transgender sex workers being verbally abused and threatened by a vigilante group aiming to "clean up" South Auckland is just one example of altercations happening on the streets every night, says the NZ Prostitutes Collective. Abused: Sex workers in South Auckland (pic: TVNZ) Since Prostitution Law Reform in 2003, the sex workers' activities are not illegal, but the Papatoetoe Reclaiming Our Streets (PROS) group is driving around the area verbally abusing and threatening to 'out' sex workers and their clients to their families. Footage shown on TVNZ's Close Up programme this week showed a PROS leader shouting transphobic remarks at street workers, and asking one to "f**k off back to K' Road". "We know there are around 12 to 15 girls working the street in Papatoetoe each night, many of them transgender," explains NZ Prostitutes Collective Regional Co-ordinator Annah Pickering. "The abuse happens all the time. Both verbal, and violence at times. There's a real stigma out there against these girls. It's very sad that in this modern day, there's so much anger against people who are different or who have different opinions." Pickering says the Prostitutes Collective is working with local government and police on strategies to make the streets safer, and in the meantime, encourages the working girls to "turn the other cheek" when possible. In South Auckland, the council passed a bylaw at the time of Prostitution Law Reform to prevent private houses being used as brothels, forcing sex workers in the area onto the streets. Violent incidents often don't get reported to police, as response times are slow, and sex workers - along with their clients - are afraid to give evidence as they fear being 'outed' to their families. The Prostitutes Collective often becomes a go-between with police and individual workers in cases of violent abuse.    

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 22nd April 2009 - 5:15pm

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