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Prostitution in New Zealand

The legislation

Prostitution was decriminalised in New Zealand in 2003 with the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.

There are  three main aims of the  legislation. Firstly, to protect the  workers from exploitation. Secondly, to  promote the health and safety of the workers. Finally, to eliminate the prostitution of people under the age of 18.

Under the legislation, operators of brothels must hold a certificate of operation. Brothels cannot advertse except in the print media. Street prostitution is legal. Soliciting and living off the earning of prostitution were decriminalised. It is illegal for persons on temporary visas (eg student, work, tourist) to enage in sex work.

Local governments have the authority to develop by-laws for zoning as to the location of brothels and street prostitution, but cannot prohibit either.

In 2005, the Justice Department published a report entitled The Sex Industry in New Zealand: A Literature Review

In 2008, the Justice Department published its Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act

A report by Melissa Farley in response to the Justice Department report highlights problems with the legislation – that decriminalisation has not improved safety.

Shadow Report for the CEDAW Committee on New Zealand. 2007. This report, just four years after the legisalation was introduced, highlights some of the major problems associated with prostitution in New Zealand.

A collection of newspaper articles that show the problems associated with prostitution in New Zealand

Under Age Prostitution. Despite one of the key aims of the legislation being the elimination of under age prostitution, this remains a major problem. Most of the underage prostitution takes place on the streets, but there have been some prosecutions of brothel managers for employing under age girls in brothels.

Sept 2013 Radio Australia interview with NZ member of parliament who says that legalisation has encouraged street prostitution among Pacific Island girls

June 2013 Concerns for the safety of underage street prostitutes in Auckland

April 2013 Call to change the law so that street prositution is illegal. This is seen as the only way of  elimainating under age prostitution.

Mar 2013 Report of girls as young as 13 earning $600 a night on the streets in Aukland

Mar 2013 The NZ Prime Minister admits that legislation has failed to stop under age prostitution. 

July 2012 A New Plymouth brothelkeeper convicted of employing 15 year old. He loses his appeal in the Supreme Court

June 2012 A 16year old street prostitute in Manukua (Auckland) is raped at knifepoint

Dec 2010 Teenagers in South Auckland sent to work as prostitutes by their parents.

Dec 2010 A Christchurch brothel manager given light home detention sentence for employing underage girls 

June 2010 Auckland police concerns about girls as young as 12 working on the streets 

June 2010 Auckland’s Dirty Secret – a short You Tube clip on underage street prostitution in Auckland

Jan 2008 Evidence of widespread underage prostitution throughout New Zealand 5 years after legalisation 

Community Concerns. There are widespread reports of community concerns regarding street prostitution, location of brothels in residential areas and the proximity of brothels to schools etc. Several towns and cities have sought to place restrictions on the location of brothels.

Mar 2013  Lyttelton (the port of Christchurch) bans large brothels.

Jan 2012 A brothel opens next to a primary school in Auckland

Dec 2011  Illegal brothel in Auckland suburb closed after community resistance 

April 2011  A survey shows 66% of respondents want brothels banned from residential area. 

Illegal Brothels and Workers. Despite the decriminalization of prositution, illegal brothels are still a problem as well as the employment of women on temporary visas.

April 2015 A women is jailed for 27 months for recruiting women from Thailand to work in brothels.

Mar 2013 Christchurch illegal brothel owner fined $8000 for operating a brothel without the required council consent.

Dec 2011 Illegal brothels flourish in Hamilton

Jun 2011 Motel owners warned against letting out room to foreign prostitutes during Rugby World Cup

May 2011 Concerns over influx of foreign prostitutes during Rugby World Cup

Apr 2011. An influx of Chinese prostitutes drives the illegal sector.

Oct 2010 South Korean prostitutes work illegaly in New Zealand on temporary visas.

Trafficking: New Zealand has been identified as a destination country (mostly of women from Asia) and also a source  for trafficking within the country. New Zealand legislation does not recognise the internal trafficking of persons as a crime.

Jun 2014  The US State Department Trafficking in Persons report names New Zealand as a destination country for trafficking in persons as well as a source country for underage sex trafficking of Maori and Pacific island children.

Jun 2012 The US State Department Trafficking in Persons report names New Zealand as both a source and destination country for trafficking in persons

Sept 2011  US State official critisises New Zealand’s definition of trafficking which does not include trafficking within the country