Quake city wants proposed street prostitute law extended

By Jarrod Booker

Christchurch prostitutes were forced into the suburbs by the quakes. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Christchurch prostitutes were forced into the suburbs by the quakes. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Christchurch is hoping to piggy-back off a proposed new law for Auckland as it tries to deal with street prostitutes who have been pushed into the suburbs by earthquakes and are clashing with frustrated residents.

The bill, if passed, would allow Auckland Council to confine street prostitution to specific areas, and Christchurch City Council wants it extended so it can exercise the same powers in its territory.

Since the devastating February 2011 quake, prostitutes have moved from damaged central Christchurch into the residential neighbourhood of St Albans, and residents have complained of noise, litter and intimidation.

Melissa Saggers, whose neighbourhood has been "claimed" by prostitutes and their minders since February last year, says it is affecting people's lives.

She has often seen prostitutes sitting on her letterbox and operating from outside her home, and finds used condoms and needles in her garden.

Their presence means Miss Saggers no longer has her nephews or nieces staying with her at her home.

"The pimps and prostitutes make you feel very unsafe. I don't even like to leave the front door after dark. They can be quite verbally harassing. They've sort of claimed the street as theirs. There's not respect for those of us who live here. It's all about them."

Prostitutes' Collective Christchurch regional co-ordinator Anna Reed said her group saw no need for a law that would limit where prostitutes could ply their trade.

She recognised the council was concerned about the effect on residents and the collective was sympathetic.

"But these are very unusual circumstances ... and we believe when the cordons are lifted, people will move back into the [city], Ms Reed said. "Everyone just needs to have a little bit of tolerance and respect - the residents and the prostitutes."

The Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill will go before Parliament's local government and environment committee.

Christchurch councillor Sue Wells, who will be speaking to MPs, said: "Councils have no ability to control street prostitution. The effects of [it] cause significant concern."

- NZ Herald

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