If the American restaurant chain Hooters opens in New Zealand it will be a backward step which encourages the objectification of women, says a leading advocate against sexual violence.

Wellington Rape Crisis agency manager Eleanor Butterworth said the restaurant, which asks its female employees -- "Hooter Girls" -- to dress in short shorts and low cut tops, was misogynistic and perpetuated sexism.

"It is not 1970 anymore and businesses like Hooters are outdated and ridiculous.

"It is frustrating for those of us working in [sexual violence prevention] to have to keep explaining why this sort of casual misogyny should no longer have a place in our society," Ms Butterworth said.

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"I think we need to start clearly understanding that sexual violence exists on a continuum and the objectification and harassment is one end of the sexual violence continuum, places like Hooters promote this objectification of the women working there."

Her comments followed the announcement that Hooters' vice president of global business development, Mark Whittle, will arrive in Auckland today and stay for three days to meet as many potential investors as possible.

Mr Whittle will be looking for an investor to own and manage up to six outlets at high-profile sites in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington, Franchise NZ said.

The company said the investor or group must have demonstrable liquidity of around $5 million to fund the acquisition and management costs.

Ms Butterworth asked: "If it is okay to reduce women to a pair of breasts for your gratification, what is the difference between that and forcing her to do other things for your gratification?

"These behaviours, though different, exist on the same continuum."

New Zealand had one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the western world, with one in four women, one in eight men and half of all transgender people experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime.

"These experiences don't exist in a bubble -- they come from a wider lack of analysis of respectful, consensual sexual relationships in our communities," Ms Butterworth said.

"We already have the UN expressing concern about the lack of funding for specialist sexual violence agencies, we already have only 9 per cent of cases reported to the police and we have seen major issues in the police handling of cases such as Roastbusters.

"The prevalence of rape myths skews people's views on consent. Businesses like Hooters further muddy the waters of respectful sex by bringing low-end sexual violence to the mainstream."