Reflecting on New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Act

Many in the sexworker community hold up New Zealand’s legislation as the best and therefore the one everyone should adopt. The Prostitution Reform Act of 2003 has many strengths, not least that the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective played an important part in its formulation.

The Act does have weaknesses, however, so it seems good for everyone to think about them and how they might be modified to fit other contexts. The other day I wrote about the glaringly anti-migration clause in the legislation, which is the opposite of what many activists would like to see. It’s disguised as anti-trafficking law. Links to more information on the law and the NZ Prostitutes Collective are supplied.

The interesting comments on that post centred on the law’s effects on or benefits to street workers, so I wrote about that next. 

It’s notoriously difficult to assess the effects of any law.  I’ve given a link to a report made to NZ’s Justice Department in 2008 on some early findings.  My interest is in promoting thoughtfulness about laws that regulate the sex industry: the NZ law not only decriminalises but also defines and regulates brothels. The rest of the sex industry, outside what’s considered prostitution per se, isn’t covered by the Act, as far as I can see.

Laura Agustín
Border Thinking on Migration, Trafficking and Commercial Sex