Prostitution law: a South Sea model?

Andrea Mrozek –
28 Nov 08
Canadians should be wary of the much-touted legalised regime in New Zealand. Success is such a slippery term. Particularly, it would seem, when it comes to prostitution. Does success mean getting government job training? Or does it mean getting out of the business altogether? Judging by the New Zealand decriminalisation experience, success means more of the former. And some Canadian activists have gone there to learn, possibly with the intent of importing such measures here.
They could just as easily have gone to Sweden, which has rejected its former easy-going attitude and criminalized the purchase of sex; or to Norway, which has followed suit; or to the Netherlands — a model for New Zealand’s law — where the city of Amsterdam is fed up with its image as a prostitution capital and is closing down sex shops; or to practically anywhere in Europe where the presence of large numbers of trafficked women in the sex trade is forcing reviews of legalised regimes, Britain being the latest to reintroduce criminal measures.
Perhaps the Canadians did — or will — look at all that. They will certainly need to take it into account when considering the rah-rah reports about legalised prostitution they might hear from certain New Zealanders. They will need to take note of a recent statement from the National Council of Women (NZ) saying it is “alarmed by the passing down of lenient sentences for men convicted of having sex with girls under the age of 18 under the Prostitution Reform Act 2003.” “What reform exactly?” they ask, admitting that they supported the law change because they thought it would give protection to those over 18.
In fact, those Canadians with the time, tenacity and possibly insomnia required to read the New Zealand Government’s recent Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 may come away feeling something other than unvarnished enthusiasm for the legalization of prostitution. It contains a guarded optimism about the reforms but is inconclusive about any outright success.

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