Survivors from the sex trade in New Zealand are speaking out about the tragic failure of decriminalisation aimed at preventing harms to prostituted women and girls from sex buyers and pimps but here in Tasmania Young Labor and many in the Union movement don’t want to hear their voices.
The Scarlet Alliance ramped up their pro decriminalisation campaign in 2016 and worked with Young Labor to put a motion for decriminalisation before last year’s Tasmanian ALP State Conference. Yet NorMAC was unsuccessful in gaining a meeting with Young Labor to present our research and testimonies from Survivors about the failure of decriminalisation to protect those who sell sex from health impacts or violence from procurers, pimps and sex buyers. The motion for decriminalisation at the ALP State Conference received strong opposition from a few members but was finally passed.
The sex trade lobby in Australia has recently been dealt a massive blow to its propaganda machine with Spinifex Press’ release in 2016 of the book Prostitution Narratives. 20 Survivors of the sex trade, mainly from Australia, have told of their horrific ordeals in a violent trade involving men purchasing sexual access to girls and women’s bodies. It is these women’s experiences in both legal and illegal prostitution under decriminalised regimes that exposes the myth pushed by ‘sex worker’ front groups that prostitution is just a job like any other.
Currently UN Women are conducting a lengthy consultation on prostitution and the sex trade and hundreds of Survivors and women’s human rights organisations have made submissions including voicing their opposition to Amnesty International’s dubious consultation process on their ‘sex work’ policy.
The Northern Territory is currently considering changes to their sex trade laws and they are well placed to take a lead role in Australia by recognising that the sex trade is underpinned by inequality for women. The Northern Territory, if they listen carefully to the evidence base from Survivors, could become the test ground for Nordic model laws in Australia. The Northern Territory could lead a shift in cultural attitudes towards girls and women in Australia and recognise they are not commodities to be bought or sold for male entitlement.
Jurisdictions which have gone down the decriminalisation experiment have all failed with a massive increase in women being exploited in both the legal and illegal sectors as has happened in New Zealand and Germany and many other jursidictions.
Dr Meagan Tyler from RMIT in a recent article published in the Australian Sociological Association wrote:
‘Another forgotten group, frequently left out of research and policy discussions about the sex industry in Australia, is sex trade survivors – those who have first-hand experience of the sex industry but have exited. The ongoing marginalisation of survivors from many research and policy discourses about systems of prostitution raises a number of important questions about policy advocacy and industry-supported research…….The potential for industry capture in research on systems of prostitution in Australia should therefore be of serious concern. A double standard appears to be emerging, where the voices of grass-roots abolitionist and survivor organisations are often completely excluded from discussion, or sectioned off as irredeemably ‘biased’ while, on the other hand, publications co-authored with industry bodies are held up as instances of useful external engagement or radical praxis.’
Tasmanian Young Labor’s cultural blindside towards violence perpetrated against women in the sex trade is reminiscent of the time before the domestic violence issue was acknowledged in Australia. It was often said to women who complained about violence from their partners “you make your bed, you can lie in it”. For Young Labor to ignore the Voices of survivors or requests for meetings from stakeholder groups seeking consultations is little different to the cultural blindness of yesterday. But it is a particularly disturbing form of bias considering that Young Labor have not heard from the men who buy sex and why they do so. The sex trade is underpinned by inequality with issues of male power, dominance and privilege at the core of sexploitation of vulnerable girls and women.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand provides the best example of why decriminalisation has failed yet it is touted by sex worker front groups as the best model to follow. Yet in November 2013, just 10 years after the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 was enacted, a petition with 2,910 signatures of formerly prostituted people and their advocates was presented to the Government calling for introduction of Nordic model laws.
Sabrinna Valisce is a member of Sister Survivors and a formerly prostituted woman in New Zealand and Australia who volunteered with the New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective on and off over a 23 year period of time. She experienced prostitution pre and post the Prostitution reform Act 2003 and now campaigns against full decriminalisation in favour of using a Nordic Model blueprint with some changes to suit the South Pacific’s unique situation.
In a recent interview I conducted with Sabrinna she outlined the harmful impacts from decriminalisation on women in New Zealand, the increase in organised crime and said that most women want out of the sex trade:
“Decriminalisation passed by only one vote in NZ in 2003 and was understood to revert to ‘prohibition’ if it was deemed to be a failure. There was no real discussion on the Nordic model with the exception of a single MP raising it in a speech in parliament Sweden was the only country that had adopted Nordic model law which occurred in 1999, 4 years prior. The conversation centred around prohibition vs full decriminalisation with little acknowledgement of the other two legal frameworks. Only now that decriminalisation has failed in NZ are people in the industry starting to consider the Nordic model. Georgina Beyer, formerly in prostitution and a Mayor at the time the Prostitution Reform Bill was passed into law has now stated publicly that in retrospect the push for decriminalisation was too hasty and poorly understood.
I believe the attitude towards women in New Zealand is being shaped by decriminalisation of the sex trade and the international porn industries portrayal of women as objects for sale.
In an OECD Survey of 17 countries, 13 of which responded, the Report found that New Zealand has the highest rate of domestic violence, sexual violence and child molestation in the OECD.
When decriminalisation came into effect via the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA 2003) some OH&S inspections were conducted in some brothels with the expectation these would continue on a regular basis. Inspections have not occurred since. Police also have no grounds to enter a legal business without cause.
For prostituted women the threat of violence has increased: biting, hair pulling, slapping and rough sex. It has become more difficult to insist on condom, lube and dental dam use because ‘girls’ are advertised as ‘clean’. Decriminalisation has destigmatised johns which has resulted in john’s demanding and acting out on women that which they see in pornography, most notably Gonzo Porn which is based in women’s pain and humiliation.
There are no ‘known’ cases of HIV in the sex trade today and this was the case prior to decriminalisation. If a prostituted person is known to have contracted HIV they would not go to the NZPC because the second the media got wind of the first HIV+ ‘sex worker’ it would be published in papers and online. This would also render the person unemployed with no services to transit into safe mainstream employment. A male worker I did ‘doubles’ with came down HIV+. It’s not known if he contracted it from a john or in his personal life. He moved to Sydney.
Under decriminalisation pimps have more power over the women than when it was illegal because brothel keeping is a legitimate business making pimps businessmen and women. People in the sex trade in New Zealand are still stigmatised and rarely speak out against industry abuse for fear of being bullied, threatened, framed or attacked. Police reporting has not increased because without name suppression the media put to print the victims name next to the words ‘sex worker’. It is standard practice for employers to google potential employees which traps women in prostitution for life when their name comes up as a known ‘prostitute’.
Decriminalisation in New Zealand has failed to reduce stigma. No legislation is capable of reducing stigma. The Nordic Model allows prostituted people to involve the police without having to lay charges. Police are empowered to intervene and spot fine johns.
Under legalisation the State becomes the pimp via registration and its accompanying fees which is why it was not considered for legislation in New Zealand. Small Owner Operated Brothels, SOOBS, can have up to five people working together with no legal requirement to register (the brothel). SOOBS are the key to understanding why the number of registered brothels has not increased since 2003. There is no reliable data on the number of SOOBS operating in NZ due to internet advertising on a wide variety of forums and social networking sites. Nobody would know if a pimp is involved in any of these. It is also not possible to know the number (of individuals) working in the sex trade as they don’t have to register. Registration is not a positive because it potentially can come up in background checks when the prostituted person attempts to leave the sex trade. Registration has also failed in Germany where over 90% of all prostituted people are not registered for this reason. Previously, prostituted people and SOOBS could be counted in newspapers but now advertising primarily uses the internet ie backpage, facebook, twitter, linkedin, webcamming etc.
The sex trade in New Zealand has serious race issues with many Maori, Samoan, Tongan and Pacific Islanders; and Asian women primarily from Thailand and Korea. Some are at risk of being tricked into the trade when relocating legally, which is a form of trafficking. They can fall victim to ‘sex work recruiters’ which is the name used for traffickers and may then be charged under Immigration New Zealand (INZ) as ‘illegal sex workers’. They are over-represented in the industry and did not have prostitution in their cultures prior to Westernisation.
The US Government has known that NZ is a trafficking destination since 2004 but the NZ Government has failed to acknowledge any trafficking into or within its borders. Many media articles have exposed sex trafficking in NZ but only now is the Government beginning to recognise and admit to (labour) trafficking. It still does not admit to any commercial sexual exploitation including sex-trafficking which usually involves women from Thailand and Korea, countries New Zealand relies heavily on for trade. Lack of action on sex trafficking is an obfuscation in defence of the PRA 2003 which legitimised the sex trade.
In Wellington, The Chow brothers have taken roughly 80% of the sex trade and have begun to expand into Auckland. This has serious ramifications for independent workers and SOOBS because it drives down incomes trapping women in a cycle of poverty. Their plan for a mega brothel in Auckland was thwarted but we can expect them to try again in the future.
There are links between the sex trade and organised crime and everyone in it knows. In one brothel prostituted women who lived on the premises did not speak English and never left the premises.
Without comprehensive exit services led by sex trade survivors, independent of all legal framework political lobbying, prostituted people will never have their full human rights met. We must place this centrally in all discussions of the sex trade here and abroad. Most of us want out.”
Rae Story’s account also exposes more of the myths about New Zealand decriminalised model on prostitution. Rae was involved in the sex trade for over 10 years, describes herself as “sex industry critical” and is now a free lance writer living in the UK:
‘Working in a New Zealand brothel was anything but ‘a job like any other
One of the first prostituted women I ever met told me that I had to check the johns’ penises for venereal disease before accepting their trade. Aside from the obvious herpes welts, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to be looking for. In any case, the first john I encountered at an Auckland brothel took thorough umbrage at the idea. I had asked, timidly, to examine him and he pointedly assured me that if I should continue in such a manner he would speak to management (who he claimed to be friends with) and have me fired. Not yet 19-years-old and overwhelmed by this strange new world, I didn’t argue.
I spent a summer there, although I remember the small city as being distinctly sharp and grey. Perhaps because I mostly only saw it at the end of the afternoon or at the first light of day, as I laboured from 6pm until 6am. The rest of the day I spent hovering in and out of a jaded sleep, always trying to come down off of the ledge of something: hyperactivity, adrenaline, anxiety…
A few years later, New Zealand changed their prostitution laws and fully decriminalized prostitution (previous to 2003, solicitation, running a brothel, and living off the earnings of prostitution were illegal). It wasn’t only the prostituted, collectivized in houses for their own security, who were decriminalized, but the large, branded brothels too — brothels like the one I worked in, that poured money into their interiors in the form of wine bars, sweeping staircases, marble-looking suites with jacuzzis and wipe-down beds… Wipe-down luxury.
It was an aesthetic that fit the owner, who had an air of seediness and a jet black sports car, bought with the high commissions he collected from the dozens of prostitutes who laboured under his roof. He would occasionally saunter around the brothel’s bars, ostensibly to check that we were sitting properly and engaging with the men correctly, but also to demonstrate his general omnipresence. It seemed to be one of his sole activities, other than interviewing new prostitutes to assess their sexualized suitability for his little kingdom.
It was preferred that we sit on stools along the bar, with our legs crossed elegantly, smiling pleasantly. We had to present ourselves to the johns — who swarmed comfortably in relative darkness — without seeming hard or confronting. We were to appear available but without seeming too assertive. Of course, this was a rigidity that management could not always discipline. During our 12 hour shifts we became apathetic and sometimes hostile, oscillating between high and lows brought on by alcohol and other clandestinely consumed narcotics. To make money you had to keep up a good front, and not allow slow spells or virulent competition to wear you down. This was easy to manage in the first few weeks, when the high of making what was initially a lot of money propelled you through the night, but difficult to maintain in the long-term. I remember one pretty, blonde prostitute I spoke to, who mourned the loss of her early days when she always had a spare few thousand pounds hanging around her house, now finding herself just barely able to make ends meet.
We only made money if we interested a punter enough for him to take us upstairs. In the early days this was easy — our enthusiasm was a lubricant — but as time moved on, lethargy from poor sleep patterns and an unhealthy lifestyle wore me and many others down. This lifestyle was endemic and institutional: we couldn’t rest, eat healthily, take breaks and, by sleeping during the day, we mostly missed out on natural light. Compounded with a culture of substance use and abuse, this wasn’t a healthy way to live. Beyond that, the competition (sometimes as many as 50 women a night) was incredibly intense. Because many of the johns were regulars at the brothel, the longer you worked there, the harder it was to induce their fickle attention. If the women did not successfully cultivate “regulars” (which they did by giving the johns everything they wanted), it was not always easy to make money in the long-term. Indeed, the idea that most prostitutes are rolling in money is one of the most persistent myths about the industry. Johns want the newest, youngest girls.
Whenever a john showed interest in me, I would walk with him, in tottering heels, to the front desk, where he would pay his fee to the receptionist before taking me upstairs. It was a clever system for management — taking control of the money meant that you couldn’t simply wander off before the end of your shift. Even the women who only wanted to see a minimal number of men were more or less forced to stay until 6am in order to get paid. We were supposed to be “independent contractors,” I discovered later, but the way the system was set up, it didn’t feel that way. We had to keep careful count of what we earned, otherwise, some of the women told me, the receptionists would try to shortchange you. Often, though, I was so confused by my necessary intoxication that I wasn’t entirely sure how much money I was owed and mostly didn’t bother to count. I wasn’t the only one.
There was plenty of unpaid labour involved in these transactions as well. It was not imperative that every punter took a woman upstairs, because they would still spend money on drinks at the bar — drinks that were priced at a higher premium than other bars, due to the fact that they came with a side order of underdressed young women. We didn’t get any percentage of these earnings, of course. There was (intentionally) no lounge or room for us to go in order to take a break from hustling — the makeup room had been orchestrated so that it was impossible to relax in, with vanity mirrors lined up tightly like the prongs of a fork. Occasionally I would escape to the laundry room, to pull off my wig and chat with the guy who negotiated a bottomless pile of white, stained towels, but could usually only barely catch a breath before a receptionist or the owner noticed me, via the CCTV monitor (cameras were almost everywhere), and pulled me back to the floor.
My memories of johns are foggy — I vaguely remember trying not to fall asleep, and hoping the hour would pass quickly, as sweating men came and went. But one john sticks out. The boss liked us to work most nights and so the constant interference from (often) rabid men left us bruised and sore. This one particular john had a thick penis, which he liked to jab in and out of me, as hard and fast as he could. Initially, I tried to breathe deeply and relax my muscles, but the pain was excruciating. I began to hold onto his hips to slow him down, push him away from me, but he got impatient and then angry, before flouncing off to complain, as though he was the victim of some great injustice.
When I walked back down to the foyer, the receptionist pulled me aside to inform me of his grievance. I hyperbolized his brutalization, knowing that if I simply said I was too sore to cope with what was a fairly banal experience of prostituted sex, it wouldn’t satisfy her. She narrowed her eyes cynically, but said she was willing to let it pass as this had been the only complaint leveled against me. One imagines, looking back, that the other women had to learn how to alleviate these situations for themselves — learn how to cope with the bruising, the discomfort, the tiredness, the objectification, and the hours of unpaid and thankless work they conducted for the benefit of the brothel.
A waitress might have to smile incessantly, but she doesn’t have to be mauled or bruised. A carpenter or a brick-layer might scuff his fingers or hurt his back, but he doesn’t have to pretend he finds it pleasurable. He doesn’t have to ignore the pain. But in the culture of the mega brothel world, these distinctions are collapsed and these complaints are erased. The thousands upon thousands of women who will have passed through the doors of brothels like the one I worked in are scattered into the ether, not on picket lines shoulder-to-shoulder with the punters and pimps calling for its further legitimization — for this destructive gratification to be considered just “a job like any other.’
Chelsea’s experiences in the sex trade in New Zealand under a decriminalised regime expose the constant violence and human rights violations that women are subjected to by men not by stigma or laws. Chelsea wants assistance to exit the sex trade and wants to see Nordic model laws implemented in New Zealand:
‘Can I tell you something about the ‘happy hookers
Here in New Zealand, in the legal brothels, we have the same ‘happy hookers’ who claim being ‘empowered’ ‘sex workers’ enacting ‘free choice’ and ‘agency’ as is buzzing all over the world. These women are not actually liars, but they aren’t saying what you think they are saying either.
Their words have been manipulated by propagandists, to be broadcast as representing something other than what is being said. No one is happy or empowered or freely choosing to be prostituted. No one is happy about, or empowered by or freely choosing the sex or the work in sex work, and definitely not the violence or abuse intrinsic to it. What they are really saying is this.
“I am happy to be receiving (a tiny spec of) the MONEY in the sex industry”. This is akin to saying they are grateful. These women are grateful for even a small fraction of what their objectification is worth to the industry, despite everything that is taken from them by it, despite how much they put in, and how much they must endure. For many, it’s more than they expected to ever get. For many, they expect more but see this as a necessary evil along their path if they are ever to get what they expect to get from life. For many, they did at one time expect more for themselves, but their hopes have been squashed and they now consider their ambition naive.
That complete hopelessness felt by so many women, has for some of them more recently, and only very partially, been restored in their lives by the ability to earn a living for themselves – if only in the sex industry – it’s still a way to earn a living, and some people will take it and be grateful for it. Just like some people will take work in a sweatshop earning $2 a day and be grateful for it. Anything perceived to be advancing a person from where they were previously, despite how desperate things may still be or are about to become, can easily be seen as something positive by that person.
In that regard they ARE happy and they DID choose it – but they chose it from a list of options that is small and contains nothing better, or a list of options comprised of this one option, ‘sex work’, and that’s the only thing written on the page. They use the word empowered comparatively, in a world where they hold no power. If you are to be used for sex you don’t enjoy you may as well get something out of it. That sentiment is commonplace here, and if that something offered them is presented as a chance to make it in life, life that otherwise holds no hope for them, it is reasonable that they DO indeed feel empowered by it.
They are not all suffering PTSD related dissociative denials. It isn’t impossible to see what is happening to us in prostitution while remaining involved in it, like some exited radical feminists overseas have chalked their words up to be evidencing. Here if not also elsewhere, the women excited to even just be here at all are not the ones who have been in the industry long enough to suffer from what these exited women know and speak about, the decline from bad to worse and total alienation experienced by all those trapped within prostitution for many years, and the destruction of life and self that is its consequence. Us veterans do indeed start to feel as though we are losing our minds and going insane and we are the ones who end up with those long lists of diagnosed mental disorders. We stopped being grateful SO LONG AGO haha.
No, these ‘happy hookers’ are young, or at least young to the industry. Most of them do still have things in their lives they derive happiness from, and they never technically count the experience they have of all the men who pay to use them among such things. Most of them are perfectly sane. They share their horror stories with me all the time while constructing/re-touching their ‘look’ in the girls room, while sitting outside on the dingy stairwell smoking cigarettes, while navigating through drunken leers or slumped on sweaty couches waiting for punters to arrive and trying to stay awake.
They know what is what. But regardless of this fact, their voices matter.
If their words speak to the coping mechanisms and vision narrowing effects of abuse, they speak to abuses not unique to the sex industry. Abuses perpetrated against the whole class of women and girls, but especially against poor girls, racialized girls, those very young girls long before they are to be found here.
None can deny they’d rather be doing something where they are earning as much as the men who frequent our brothels do, if only they could. And without first having to sleep with those men before receiving a single measly piece of it. None deny that we’d all rather have careers culminating from the experience of all those freedoms, supports, encouragement, and resources that boys and men have at their disposal throughout their entire lives. That we’d rather make this choice out of all the vast career options that would be available to us if we happened to be men. That we’d rather our choice be made in alignment with our passions, interests, ambitions, talents, and potentials – like men get to do. That we would rather in those very careers, receive the same status, recognition, and pay checks that men get for the exact same work and without all the sexual harassment, obligations to do additional, unpaid emotional work, and glass ceiling politics. That we would rather be the boss, own and run our own organizations, doing what we decide is important work – just like men have done with 2000 years of inheritances taken from both Mothers and Fathers to be handed down only to Sons and not daughters.
We would much prefer to be living so carefree as to be concerning ourselves with which specific leisurely indulgence we will purchase like the men who rape us claim to be doing and like them to never have experienced any intimate contact from anyone that wasn’t forged into existence by our own desire and fulfillment, and expecting it to always remain as such. Holy cow what a life, it’s unbelievable!
But since we lack freedoms and we lack opportunities and we lack the proper context in which words like choice, agency and empowered are most often used and derive their true meanings from, they paint a very different picture when used by us to describe our lives compared to what is normally envisioned by them. Our use of these words here requires the context of what is missing for us here be subtracted from what these words normally would imply in order for us to be understood, we might not even think about how our choice of chocolate bar from the confectionery isle is endowed with freedoms that our choice of work was not since we’ve never had anything more than this. But the sex work lobby knows this, exploits this, and tries to live inside our ears claiming to be advocates for us.
Prostituted women, even those calling themselves sex workers, are not liars and are not crazy. And like women everywhere are sick of being dismissed as liars and silenced as crazy. This is a barrier preventing them from accessing all that radical feminist consciousness-raising could offer them, and all that they in turn could offer to the radical feminist movement. These women are stronger than they’re given credit for. They are willing to suffer in ways that would be unthinkable to most. They are trying to break their way in. They don’t see any other entrances, mainly because there are none. They don’t realize yet that this is a dead end and they are too proud to accept charity, they want to make it on their own against all the odds, which really is quite noble.
They will likely end up like me since I was once like them, I want the Swedish model and I want help to exit. I’m too tired to fight for myself before such help arrives, if it ever will. But you could reach these ‘pro’ sex workers while they’re young enough to want to fight if only they were shown just a little more respect, you speak of truth and they will recognize it. They are ready to rebel but they don’t know how, they are being fed false promises, they’re not delusional.’
On 22nd September 2016 the New Zealand Herald ran a story outlining the reluctance of NZ officials to acknowledge the incidence of sex trafficking into and within
the country. The inherent racism of the sex trade is also highlighted in this story:
‘The dark underbelly of human trafficking
New Zealand government officials have acknowledged and vowed to combat labour trafficking of migrant workers, but there appears to be reluctance to admit domestic sex trafficking of any kind occurs here.
When the Herald put questions about sex trafficking to police, we were referred to INZ who referred us back to the police.
Herald analysis of worker exploitation cases that occurred before the law change found many could have been classified as trafficking under the new legislation. They either resulted in other criminal charges being laid, such as immigration fraud or worker exploitation, or in some cases no charges at all.
• In 2010, a 60-year-old brothel owner who posed as a young surfer online and lured a teenager to New Plymouth before forcing her into the sex trade was convicted of child exploitation.
• In 2001, a Thai woman escaped from a brothel and claimed she had been trafficked and forced into prostitution. She said she had paid $10,000 and was promised a job at a restaurant, but upon arrival in New Zealand her passport and return ticket home were confiscated. She was housed in overcrowded conditions and forced to work in the sex trade from 1pm to the early hours of the morning every day, while handing over the majority of her earnings to her trafficker. No one was ever charged and the woman was repatriated to Thailand.
• In 1991, a Thai national was convicted of dealing in slaves and sentenced to five years in prison for offering to sell a 26-year-old woman to an undercover police officer for $3000. The man confiscated the woman’s passport and return ticket home and forced her to work in the sex industry in Auckland……………….
Hundreds of young women in New Zealand are selling themselves for sex on a classified ad website notorious for trafficking across North America.
Advertisements offering a “very pretty Maori girl” or the “sexiest Indian girl”, or “Caribbean beauty” are live on Backpage.co.nz. The ads include explicit photos of the women and a short biography explaining their physical features, what kind of sexual services they are willing to provide and how much they will charge.
In one of the ads, an 18-year-old is offering unprotected sex in a downtown hotel in Wellington.
Backpage has come under fire in the United States, with four senators calling for the immediate shutdown of the site because they claimed “its victims – often children – are repeatedly purchased and raped by customers”.’
The Sex Industry Kills Website provides details of women in the sex trade pre and post decriminalisation who have been murdered in New Zealand.
‘Pre – Decrim
December 1996: Angkana Chaisamret, Auckland, murder attempt by Hayden Poulter
December 1996: Ladda Nimphet, Auckland, Fort St massage parlour (Cleopatra’s Massage and Escorts Club)
October 1996: Natacha Karae Hogan, „Twiggy“, 21, Auckland, raped and murdered in the cemetery on the corner of Symonds St and Karangahape Road. Murdered by Hayden Poulter, 36
May 28 1993: Jane Furlong, 17, Auckland, Karangahape Road, remains were found at Port Walk, Sunset Beach in May 2012. She had entered the sex trade at the age of 15. At the time she disappeared, Furlong was due to appear as a prosecution witness in three trials which were sexual and gang related.
January 2002: name unknown, murder attempt, in Freeman’s Bay in central Auckland. woman survived, but she had been left for dead.
February 2 2002: Marlene „Ma“ Tania Kelly, 40, Auckland, Otahuhu, mother of six, stabbed to death in a parking lot „In the Shadows“ between Mason Ave and Station Rd., murdered by Kevin Thomas Helps, 37
April 2005: Suzie Sutherland, 36, Christchurch, was found strangled in a vacant section in Peterborough Street, murdered by sexbuyer Jules Burns
April 13 2005: Xiukun Feng, 54, also known as Nancy Peterson, Auckland, owned a massage parlour in Gt North Rd, her body was found one day later in her parked car in New Lynn carpark Rata St
December 15 2005: NN [Name suppression granted], 24, was found in the Avon River, murdered by sexbuyer Peter Stephen Waihape, 28. She was ran over, backed over, ran over a second time, backed over a second time, ran over a final time. Waihape then put her body in the car, drove 2 blocks down the road and dumped her in the Avon.
2006 – 19 year old parlor worker assaulted during a booking while working at a prominent “high class” establishment in Wellington – (noted for it’s good security).
2006 – 29 year old WG violently assaulted in girls changing room by a patched gang member, despite the presence of ’security’.
2007 – 19 year old girl violently attacked while in a booking in a popular massage parlor in Auckland
2007 – Parlor worker threatened at knife point by a client while attending an out-call
2007 – Young WG violently assaulted at front desk by an irate client
2008 – Man attacks prostitute in Christchurch city. Attempts to abduct her
18 December 2008: Ngatai Lynette Manning (also known as Mallory Manning), 27, maori, was murdered in Christchurch http://tinyurl.com/kh93n24
April 17 2009: Nuttidar Vaikaew, „Sky“, 48, thai, Auckland, 1/26 Warwick Street, murdered by „on-and-off-boyfriend“ Gordon Hieatt, 48, after an argument about him having to leave the apartment for an appointment with one of her clients, he wanted her to stop working in the sex trade. He „just wanted her to shut up“ He slept next to her dead body in his bed for four weeks, prosecutor: “He did not love her. He did not even respect her. What he was interested in was sex”.’
Sabrinna, Chelsea and Rae’s shocking stories are debunking the myths being pumped out by sex trade apologists. There is a strong shift in cultural attitudes occurring in Australian and New Zealand human rights community in response to the increasing number of testimonies from Survivors.
It can not be soon enough for Exit programs to be funded by all Australian Governments instead of funding to the Scarlet Alliance to disseminate their false and misleading propaganda which perpetuates the normalisation of the commodification of girls and women.
It is only a matter of time before one jurisdiction in Australia has the respect for women’s human rights, honesty and courage to implement asymmetric decriminalisation and introduce Nordic model laws. Hopefully the Northern Territory will take the lead for genuine equality for women.
*Isla MacGregor is a radical feminist and social justice advocate in Tasmania and has been the Spokesperson for Whistleblowers Tasmania since 1996. Isla contributed to the Tasmanians for Transparency campaign to push for establishment of a proper Anti Corruption watchdog in Tasmania. Isla worked with the Tasmanian Coalition for Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (CICSA) in 2003. Isla considers that the links between international organised crime groups, sex trafficking, the legalised sex trade and the violence to women inherent in prostitution, can only be adequately responded to with the introduction of Nordic model laws across Australia. Isla contends that it is impossible to be anti human trafficking and pro sex trade and that Australians urgently need to inform themselves about the evidence based rational of the global abolitionist movement if we genuinely want equality for women.
*As part of our HerAdvocacy program, HerSpace aims to support and raise awareness for the voices of survivors of sexual exploitation.