Decriminalisation of sex industry positive move says New Zealand researcher

Decriminalisation of New Zealand’s sex industry has resulted in safer, healthier sex workers, a new book by University of Otago, Christchurch, researcher Gillian Abel shows.

Since decriminalisation seven years ago sex workers are more empowered to insist on safe sex, Abel’s book “Taking the crime out of sex work – New Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalisation’’ shows.

Abel is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch’s Public Health and General Practice department.

She edited the book with Lisa Fitzgerald (a former Otago University, Christchurch, health promotion lecturer) and Catherine Healy (with Aline Taylor).

They interviewed 772 sex workers for the book.

Abel says the book provides compelling evidence decriminalisation has achieved the aim of addressing sex workers’ human rights and has had a positive effect on their health and safety.

Decriminalisation has also provided sex workers with more tools to manage their work environment. With knowledge of their employment rights, brothel workers are better able to assert these rights with brothel operators and clients, Abel says.

The relationship between sex workers – particularly street workers – and police has improved, the book shows.

They are more likely to report violence against them to police, Abel says.

Despite vast improvements in the safety of sex workers since decriminalisation, there is still work to be done, she says.

There is still stigma associated with the job.

Government social policies need to be improved to protect those aged under 18 entering sex work, such as freeing up access to the independent youth benefit. Likewise, greater support is needed for transgender youth, who are particularly vulnerable to being drawn into the industry, Abel says.

The book can be bought from http://policypress.co.uk

For further information contact:

Gillian Abel.
University of Otago, Christchurch
Tel: 03 3643619 / 021 337 240
gillian.abel@otago.ac.nz

Or Kim Thomas, Senior Communications Advisor
University of Otago, Christchurch
027 222 6016.

http://www.chmeds.ac.nz/newsevents/media_release/2010/decriminalisation.htm



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