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NZ: Desperate turn to prostitution (Auckland)

Publish Date: 08 Oct 2010
Source: North Shore Times
By: Michelle Robinson

Desperate turn to sex work

Desperate young women who have turned to prostitution are among those seeking help from a North Shore beneficiaries service.

At least four in their early 20s have become sex workers in recent months after struggling to find other work, Beneficiary Advocacy and Information Service senior advocate Pam Apera says.

"We have seen an increase in the number of people being refused food grants from WINZ and people being turned down for help paying their bonds.

"Most disturbingly I have even encountered young women who feel that they have no option but to turn to prostitution in order to live," she says.

She says the number of beneficiaries and low income earners seeking assistance has doubled in the last year to about 3000.

The free service helps ensure people receive the financial help they are entitled to.

"There simply aren't any jobs. I've been working as an advocate on the North Shore for over 14 years and this is one of the worst times I have seen," Ms Apera says.

She says the average single person on a domestic purposes benefit is entitled to about $160 and some can also get an accommodation supplement.

"By the time they've paid the rent they might be left with $40. It doesn't cut it for food or petrol."

The agency also operates in Orewa every Monday and a satellite centre is planned for Mt Albert to meet the demand from other areas as well as North Shore.

Ms Apera encounters families in desperate situations every day. People are getting depressed and families are breaking up because of the pressure of financial burdens, she says.

"There are young families who have always worked and not had to go on the benefit before," she says.

"We're aware suicide has taken a leap this year."

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