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NZ: Couple's home now in red-light district (Canterbury)

Publish Date: 30 Nov 2011
Source: The Press
By: Charlie Gates

SUBURBAN PROSTITUTION: A prostitute waits for business on a suburban Christchurch street. Photo / Fairfax NZ News.

A Christchurch family have been forced to live at the back of their home by "noisy and intimidating" prostitutes working on their residential street since February.

The city's red-light zone has moved north of Bealey Ave since the February 22 quake after the original area was cordoned in the red zone.

Jonathan Prangell said he and his pregnant wife had found themselves living in the middle of a red-light zone.

"The noise is quite considerable. There is fighting and yelling for position," he said.

"We contacted the police a few times, but by the time the police arrive the fights would be over. You can hear them talking about transactions and how much stuff costs.

"We have heard men arguing about who goes first. You can hear the scrape of heels outside our house and people honking and abusing the prostitutes as they pass.

"It has got so upsetting that we spend a lot of time living in the back of the house now. You can still hear the noise, but you can't tell what's being said."

The noise had upset his pregnant wife.

"She is a really strong woman, but I know things are really upsetting her," he said.

"She regrets having bought the house. She stands at the windows some nights wishing it would all just stop."

Prangell bought the house four years ago before the quake forced the prostitutes north.

"I'm trapped. I bought my house at the peak of the market. Even if I didn't have a prostitute standing outside my house, I wouldn't be able to get the price I wanted," he said.

Prangell wants the Christchurch City Council to control street prostitution in residential areas.

New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective regional co-ordinator Anna Reed said she expected street workers to return to the former red-light district once the cordon was lifted.

"We ask them to keep it down, but that is all you can do at this point. We do ask them to be respectful of people living there. It is not an ideal situation at all, but if they are not there they have to be somewhere else," she said.

Canterbury police central area commander Inspector Derek Erasmus said the new red-light zone was monitored with security cameras and regular police patrols.

He said prostitution was legal, but police "routinely investigate" illegal activity associated with the profession, such as assaults and disorder.

He said police communicated regularly with the Prostitutes' Collective to hand on concerns.

City council programme manager for strong communities Alan Bywater said it was hard to control street prostitution with bylaws.

"The practicalities are very difficult," he said.

"The actual transaction often does not take place in a public place. Also, how would you physically enforce that? How do you verify that someone standing on a street corner is a prostitute?"

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax NZ News