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Taking the crime out of sex workNew Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation$
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Gillian Abel, Lisa Fitzgerald, and Catherine Healy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781847423344

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847423344.001.0001

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(p.1) one Introduction
Taking the crime out of sex work

Gillian Abel

Lisa Fitzgerald

Policy Press

Prior to the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act of 2003 (PRA), although sex work in New Zealand was not deemed illegal, the activities associated with it, such as soliciting, brothel keeping, living on the earnings of prostitution, and procuring, were criminalised. This criminalisation of sex-work-related activities led to violence, coercion, and exploitation. For nearly two decades the New Zealand Prostitutes's Collective (NZPC), together with politicians, women's rights activists, academics, and other volunteers, advocated and lobbied for legislative change. And in June 2003, New Zealand became the first country to decriminalise sex work when the PRA was voted and passed. This legislative approach is different from other international approaches as it represents a shift from regulating sex work from a moral perspective to acknowledging the human rights of this section of the population. By decriminalisation, prostitution and sex work were acknowledged as service work. And through the legislative reform, sex workers in New Zealand were able to operate under the same employment and legal rights accorded to any other occupational group. This book examines the decriminalisation of prostitution in New Zealand. It looks at the particularities of the history of prostitution in the country, how it evolved, and how it has gained acceptance by the public. Chapters Two to Six examine the passing of the PRA in 2003. Chapter Seven outlines the statutory authority for the Prostitution Law Review Committee, its membership, and its role. Chapter Eight presents a research project commissioned by the Ministry of Justice for the review of the PRA. Chapter Ten to Fourteen provide a detailed review of the research done by the Christchurch School of Medicine. In these four chapters, the methodological approach, the public health authorities's experiences, the role of media, the decriminalisation and harm minimisation, and the ongoing perceptions of stigma, form the focus. The concluding chapter brings together the material covered in the book by summarising the effects of decriminalisation of the sex industry in New Zealand.

Keywords:   Prostitution Reform Act, New Zealand, sex work, NXPC, decriminalise sex work, decriminalisation, prostitution, public health, harm minimisation, stigma

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