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NZ: Homeowners enraged as sex 'skanks' move in (Canterbury)

Publish Date: 11 Mar 2011
Source: NZ Herald
By: Anna Leask

Sex is still selling in Christchurch - but central-city cordons have forced prostitutes into residential areas, enraging homeowners who say they don't want "skanks" working their street.

For years, prostitutes have plied their trade in Manchester St between Bealey Ave and Oxford Tce. But that area is now in the Civil Defence "red zone" and cannot be accessed.

Now, keen to stay near their usual stamping ground, the girls have moved further down Manchester St to a residential area.

The Herald was speaking to several prostitutes on Thursday night when residents came charging out of their homes armed with torches and cameras. They photographed one prostitute and her minder and argued with them both, telling them to get away from their homes.

"Sure, we're Manchester St, but this is a residential area," said one man who has lived there for more than 20 years.

"For the last 20 years the deal was that the skanks stayed in the area over Bealey Ave. We kind of accepted it. But now the skanks are hanging out here, they cross up and down the street and people are really nervous about them and the traffic and people they are attracting.

"Yes, it's legal, but it still doesn't make it right or acceptable near the homes of decent people. If you have one skank, other skanks will come. It just escalates. Where do you draw the line?"

The man said used condoms had been found in front yards and claimed one sex worker had been to the toilet on his driveway.

Another resident said she was minding the homes of seven neighbours who had left Christchurch after the quake and was nervous about people being in and around the empty properties.

"We are just trying to protect them and protect each other. People feel very unsafe with the vehicle activity and the nasty characters these prostitutes are attracting to the area."

Both residents had raised their concerns with police, who said they would keep an eye on the area.

But prostitutes working there say they have every right to do their job.

Candace, 27, said the residents' behaviour was "crazy". She was confronted and photographed by one woman and said another man assaulted one of her clients.

"There's no need for it. They have no right. We are all going through the same thing after the earthquake. It's like I'm being crucified. Shame on them," she said.

"I'm just trying to earn a living, that's it. They are living back in the 18th century. What I do is legal so what is the problem? I'm not bringing it into their area, I'm taking my clients well away."

Candace, who has been a sex worker since she was 14, said she was terrified another quake would hit while she was working. But with a damaged home and bills to pay, she had little choice but to get back to work.

She said there was a steady stream of clients in the area, including rescue workers and many out-of-towners.

"I wouldn't be here if there was no work. We're all living on edge, but there seems to be lots of men. You've just got to keep on smiling and get back on your feet."

Karla, who was working about 100m along the road from Candace, said the earthquake had had a big impact on the sex industry.

"I've been doing this for 14 years and it's never been this hard," she said.

"It's quite quiet. I think it's because no one knows where to go. I'm still getting jobs, the clients are slowly coming out. It's about familiarity.

"A lot of them have lost houses and more and they just want someone to talk to. The regulars are coming back out. They need us as much as we need them."

She said a lot of prostitutes were struggling to find new places to work.

"The girls don't know where to go. So the clients are driving around aimlessly, just hoping we'll be out. There's always going to be work. You have to get back into the routine."

Copyright 2011, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Stop Demand makes the following comments - to raise awareness, educate and encourage readers towards critical analysis.

Candace, who has been a sex worker* since she was 14...   The too-familiar story of a prostitute whose background is one of childhood sexual exploitation.

 ... used condoms had been found in front yards and claimed one sex worker*  had been to the toilet on his driveway.  Despite pro-prostitution advocates' repeated attempts to paint a glorified picture of prostitution, this is the real face of street prostitution.  

In the 21st century, shouldn't all countries be aiming to emulate Sweden, Norway and Iceland - who have criminalised the purchase of sex, with Iceland having also banned strip clubs - and endorse behaviours and attitudes that elevate the dignity and worth of men and women?

* Stop Demand objects to, and does not use, the terms "sex worker" or "sex work" due to the degradation and harm that is inherent within prostitution, whether legal or illegal.