Recession hard on sex workers

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The oldest profession in the world has hit tough times in Tauranga, it has been claimed.

Sex workers have started looking for secondary or replacement jobs because they are earning less in the recession, said community liaison officer for the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective in Tauranga, Gina Davies.

She told the Bay of Plenty Times, sex workers had been looking elsewhere in the past six months.

"Times are really hard for sex workers as well. And they are doing extra work on top of prostitution."

Ms Davies said 40 to 60 hours a week was the norm for some sex workers, with commercial cleaning an example of a second job they picked up.

One worker with 15 years in the industry said gone were the days where a prostitute could earn "thousands of dollars".

"They'd be lucky if they get $50 to $25 a night," she said.

The woman, who works in a local parlour and spoke on condition of anonymity, said fewer men were spending and if they did, they chose to go to women who were working from home because they were cheaper.

Prostitutes were turning to "real jobs" because the money was better, she claimed. "Whereas previously you might get four or five jobs a night, you're lucky to get one job over three nights."

Tina, who works privately, said things had definitely dropped off.

"All of a sudden, since about Christmas time. I feel it's slowed right down," she said.

But the owner of Corporate Angels in Tauranga and Rotorua, Allan Coombes, said there was no shortage in male clients and no shortage in women looking for work.

His business was "busier than ever".

Mr Coombes, who has worked in the sex industry for 18 years, said women who entered the industry thinking they would be in it short-term, often stayed long-term, because they enjoyed the money, which he said was still good.

Mr Coombes said that for one shift, prostitutes could earn what they made in a week at an "ordinary job".

He has employees who are married, including one woman who has four children, and has been working at Corporate Angels in Tauranga for five years.

The married women do not work every night and do it to maintain a "certain lifestyle," he said.

Mr Coombes said for both female and male sex workers, their main purpose was money.

Tauranga Salvation Army Major Joanne Wardle said times were tough and that meant some people faced desperate situations.

Major Wardle said it was her opinion, most people wouldn't choose to enter prostitution unless their living costs became unaffordable, university fees became too much, or they needed to feed a drug habit.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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