Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Sex workers cry foul over booklet

Prostitutes who work near Hunters Corner in Papatoetoe are in a clash with local residents and business-owners. Photo / Greg Bowker
Prostitutes who work near Hunters Corner in Papatoetoe are in a clash with local residents and business-owners. Photo / Greg Bowker

South Auckland sex workers say the Auckland Council is turning them into "public enemies" and "targets of abuse" following the release of a booklet accusing them of destroying public property.

The mayor-endorsed booklet on street prostitution released this week says more than 40 parking sign poles have been destroyed by prostitutes who use them for dancing.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said legislative support was needed to combat the "uninhibited spread" of street prostitution.

"There is no doubt that the street sex trade is enjoying its unrestricted use of public space, and is possibly the only industry in New Zealand to enjoy such status," Mr Brown wrote.

The council is seeking legislation to control street prostitution, but the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective says this will turn even more people into targets.

The Auckland Council Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places Bill, which would give councils the ability to ban prostitutes from certain areas, is before Parliament.

The local government select committee is expected to report on the bill in two weeks.

Prostitutes could be fined up to $2000 for soliciting in restricted areas, and police given the power to question and arrest clients.

"This will build resentment and fuel further hostilities," said the collective's national co-ordinator, Catherine Healey.

Ms Healey says no communities in the world have successfully zoned street-based sex work, and is calling for authorities to adopt a more friendly approach towards prostitutes.

"Building friendlier relationships, and accepting you are in a neighbourhood being used by street workers, is the most realistic approach," she said.

In the council booklet, the manager of the Hunters Corner and central Papatoetoe business districts, Donna Lee, said that as well as damaging public property, prostitutes littered the area with condoms, drugs and human waste.

"We deal with human waste every day," she said.

"Prostitutes use these [street poles] as dancing poles. The poles are part of their soliciting equipment and they often snap."

A shop owner also claimed up to 20 to 30 prostitutes worked outside his shop, and said they shoplifted from his store, begged customers for money and used the back of his shop as a toilet.

Jay Jay, a transvestite sex worker, who has worked for six years at Hunters Corner, said prostitutes were not the main cause of the problems and were being blamed as "easy targets".

"Auckland Council has turned us into public enemies and we have become targets for public abuse," she said.

"People are throwing everything, from drink bottles to used condoms at our faces from their cars, and we are being blamed when the s*** hits the floor."

- NZ Herald

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