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Tuesday 14 April 2015


Comment: Sex Work, Moral Panic and the Manukau Bill

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 25th September 2013

Panic_woman.jpg
New Zealand First List MP Asenati Lole-Taylor continues to engage in distortion and trying to foment moral panic against vulnerable South Auckland whakawahine, fa'afafine and cisgender street sex workers.

As the time for the second reading of the Manukau anti-sexworker bill draws closer, she is not alone.

Lole-Taylor began her latest diatribe by asking Minister of Police Anne Tolley whether she had received any reports about alleged "intimidation and harrassment" from South Auckland street sex workers from "concerned citizens." Tolley replied that she had not recieved any specific reports from Auckland Police, other than routine procedural accounts.

The New Zealand First MP then launched into an unsubstantiated comment about alleged recruitment of adolescents for the purposes of street sex work in South Auckland. As I have noted beforehand, in January 2008, the Auckland Police launched Operation Capio precisely to see if there was any underaged street sex work going on at the Hunters Corner and Northcrest Car Park areas. Altogether, they found eleven young people, who may or may not have been involved in street sex work, as some of them may have been homeless street kids. These children and adolescents were either returned to their parents or caregivers or taken into CYFS custody. Two adults were then prosecuted for abuse of underage sex workers. Streetwatch and the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective have reported the decline of adolescent and underage involvement in street sex work activity since then. The Ministry of Justice also conducted interviews in the Hunters Corner/Northcrest areas that disclosed that many of the adverse accounts related to street sex work seem to be based on anecdotal or historical 'information.'

Minister Tolley responded that, as noted from the prior Ministry of Justice reports cited above, there was no such evidence that underage/adolescent street sex work was occurring within the Hunters Corner and Northcrest areas. At this point, Maggie Barry (National) questioned whether Lole-Taylor in fact did have any such "information", at which point Lole-Taylor said that she would table it soon. Apparently, "local residents" have raised the issue with her. Are those "local residents" members of fundamentalist churches or former vigilante groups like PROS? In which case, this is not "information", this is unsubstantiated anecdote and hearsay.

At this point, Lole-Taylor made a truly peculiar grandstanding comment asking how Minister Tolley would feel if she were propositioned for oral sex, which apparently made international news coverage. The Police Minister stated that she was blushing. Lole-Taylor then tabled a letter from South Auckland "parents." One wonders about the provenance of these 'parents.'

Meanwhile, Auckland Council and Lole-Taylor have received a free bus pass on its opposition to street sex work from most Auckland and national straight/cisgender media outlets. Apart from a brace of commendably balanced New Zealand Herald articles several months ago, other Auckland and national media outlets have taken little trouble to evaluate the validity or otherwise (usually the latter) of claims when it comes to the recriminalisation of street sex work.

Once again, I would cite Dr Gillian Abel's submission against the proposed Manukau City (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill as an evidence-based corrective to the grandstanding and injurious claims made in Parliament by Lole-Taylor. Many of the Hunters Corner street sex workers are transsexual women and many are also homeless, transient or otherwise vulnerable. They need social services and vocational training if they want to leave sex work, not hamfisted and ill-considered prohibitionist legislation orchestrated by manipulative right-wing populist New Zealand First and Auckland Council politicians and militant fundamentalist activists or former vigilante groups.

It should be noted that other unscrupulous local body politicians are jumping on the same bandwagon. In Eden-Albert Ward, Bevan Chuang has started to campaign against the existence of boutique brothels near Epsom Girls Grammar School.

Speaking of which, how do Auckland's mayoral candidates rank when it comes to this issue and others? Family First has a "Supercity" "Value Your Vote" chart newly out, which features the candidates support or opposition to street prostitution and its prohibition as one of the questions. It praised all of the candidates on hand for wanting to restrict alcohol sale outlets and their hours of operation, the spread of pokies and exploitative loanshark activity. None of the candidates wanted to censor billboards or ban the R18 Erotica Expo. Uesifili Unasa and John Palino also wanted an end to "offensive" parades.

All well and good, but all of the candidates also supported bans on residential area brothels.

Predictably, Mayor Len Brown was the only candidate who wanted to ban street prostitution, presumably through passage of the Manukau City (Regulating Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill through Parliament. It should be noted that on this issue, John Minto rejected this outright, while mayoral candidates John Palino (centre-right) and Uesifili Unesa (leftist) both seemed "unsure." Therefore, on this basis, I recommend that LGBT voters endorse John Minto as their choice for Auckland Mayor.

As if these antics and ignorant media coverage in Auckland weren't bad enough, it now seems some populist agitators and media outlets in Christchurch are trying to jump onto the same ghastly bandwagon. In suburban Ferrymead, one such individual, Wayne Hawker, is targeting a brothel illegally sited in a residential area through transcribing the motor vehicle license plates of those seen entering the address. Granted, the brothel shouldn't be there in the first place, but from the case of Manukau's PROS vigilante group, we know that uninvolved third parties can be harrassed as a consequence of these antics.

Or, take a recent Christchurch Press article by Mike Yardley. Yardley refers to a Manchester Street resident, "Jonathan" and his "young family", antagonised by alleged "public nuisance" activity in the street from street sex workers. Unlike those in Manukau, these women are mostly cisgender. Again, Yardley refers to activities that would seem to contravene the Summary Offences Act, so why isn't that being used in this context instead of a hamfisted, draconian bill that attacks women's lives, health and safety in this context?

One hopes that our Members of Parliament ignore the cheap attention grabbing stunts of this latest crowd of ignorant, opportunist and populist vigilantes and vote down this despicable, draconian, illiberal and transphobic legislation at its second reading on Monday, September 30.



Recommended:

Rebuttal of Lole-Taylor's Latest Claims: Ministry of Justice: Review of Street-Based Prostitution in Manukau City (April 2009): http://www.justice.govt.nz/commerical-property-and-regulatory/prostitution/prostitution-review-manukau

Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostution Reform Act 2003 (May 2008): http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/prostitution/prostitution-law-review-committee/publications/plrc-report/

Ministry of Justice: Review of Street-Based Prostitution in Manukau City (April 2009): http://www.justice.govt.nz/commerical-property-and-regulatory/prostitution/prostitution-review-manukau

Dr Gillian Abel" Submission on the Manukau City (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill: http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/1F9FAEDA-25D8-43E4-A7D9-3C6727A283F2/211655/50SCLGE_EVI_00DBHOH_BILL10290_1_A223370_DrGillianA.pdf


Not Recommended:

"Questions and Answers" Scoop: 05.09.2013: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1309/S00127/questions-and-answers-september-5.htm

Bevan Chuang: "Brothels not welcome near Epsom schools" Scoop: 09.09.2013: .http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1309/S00233/brothels-not-welcome-near-epsom-schools.htm

Family First: "Value Your Vote: Supercity Mayoral Contest 2013:" http://valueyourvote.org.nz/supercity-2013/

Hamish Clark: "Man naming and shaming brothel clients" 3 News: 23.09.2013: http://www.3news.co.nz/Man-naming-and-shaming-brothel-clients/tabid/423/articleID/314438/Default.aspx

Mike Yardley: "Tougher rules needed for street prostitutes" Christchurch Press: 03.09.2013: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/columnists/mike-yardley/9117455/Tougher-rules-needed-for-street-prostitutes



Craig Young - 25th September 2013

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