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NZ: Cities team up to fight prostitution (Auckland/Canterbury)

Publish Date: 19 Jan 2012
Source: Auckland Now
By: Michael Fox and Sam Sachdeva

Auckland and Christchurch officials will today meet to discuss joining forces to combat street prostitution.

Papatoetoe residents have fought for several years to limit the areas where street prostitutes work, complaining of seeing them perform their services in broad daylight, of having to clean up excrement and used condoms and deal with disorder issues.

Otara-Papatoetoe local board chairman John McCracken says he's found a kindred community in Christchurch where 14 prostitution-related arrests were made at the weekend following a string of complaints to police.

''The issues around street prostitution are local things. For people who aren't affected by this sort of behaviour it doesn't sort of rate as a concern.

''To have another community be experiencing exactly the same issues is a huge help to us to show that this is a real problem.''

With the legacy Manukau City Council's Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places Bill currently before a select committee and submissions closing at the end of February, the board is trying to drum up support to make the bill effective nationwide.

The board is trying to gather momentum for its plans behind the scenes and was reluctant to discuss exact details, but one representative is in Christchurch today meeting local body officials.

The meeting will precede more formal discussions.

''Christchurch City Council has been asking for somebody to visit to explain Papatoetoe's position to explain the problems they have with street sex, compare the issues that they're each finding and to talk about the amendments and how they can help both communities,'' McCracken said.

Christchurch City Council's general manager of regulation and democracy services, Peter Mitchell, said they would discuss a formal visit from an Auckland delegation following today's visit.

They will also discuss making a submission to the select committee.

Last month they wrote to Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Government indicating their support for the intent of the bill. They are now hoping it will be sponsored by an MP or picked up by the Government so it becomes applicable nationwide.

''To get something through, you need to show there is great need for it: you need all the affected areas working together," said councillor Aaron Keown.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the bill would help address prostitution-related issues which had occurred since the earthquakes.

''We don't have the powers to make changes, we need them, and this will help.''

The bill has proven contentious with the Prostitutes' Collective and its supporters claiming it marginalised sex workers who were trying to make a living.

McCracken said they don't want a blanket ban on prostitution, simply to limit their activities to areas where it won't affect residents, similar to alcohol-free zones.

He said the board's argument was not a moral one but rather about the effect it had on residents forced to witness their fornicating, swearing and drinking.

If a factory was plonked in the middle of a suburban neighbourhood they would be subject to restrictions limiting their impact on communities and the same should apply to the street sex industry, he said.

McCracken said they would lobby members of parliament from both cities to try and find someone to champion it.


Copyright © 2012 Fairfax NZ News
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