'A waste of time' Prostitution law change

WORKING GIRLS: South Auckland prostitutes say residents don’t need to be afraid of them.
WORKING GIRLS: South Auckland prostitutes say residents don’t need to be afraid of them.

Prostitutes at Hunters Corner are hitting back at a bill that aims to restrict where they can work, saying it's unnecessary and could put their safety at risk.

The Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places Bill is now before a select committee and a report is due back to Parliament at the end of March.

The bill seeks to regulate where prostitutes can work and would give police the ability to arrest and fine them and clients if they break the rules.

But Papatoetoe street sex workers say their industry doesn't need any further regulation.

Cinde has been working as a prostitute since she was 19, first on central Auckland's Karangahape Rd and then at Hunters Corner.

The 42-year-old has seen numerous attempts to regulate the industry in that time but says nothing has made much difference.

"I think they should just leave it how it is. It's a waste of time. They tried to change K' Rd, it never happened. It doesn't matter."

The Manukau Courier has run numerous articles about Papatoetoe residents' issues with street prostitutes.

People have experienced violence and intimidation and witnessed sex workers defecating and urinating in public.

But Cinde says she hasn't seen any physical violence from the workers during her time on the street.

Residents should "just smile and say hi to us" instead of being intimidated, she says.

"They don't need to be scared of us because if anything happened to them we'd be protecting them."

Another prostitute, who does not want to be named, says residents pose more threats to her safety than she does to theirs.

She's been bashed on the street while working and knows of another prostitute who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run.

Others have had their drinks spiked by clients and been the victims of robberies and sexual assaults.

Moving the trade to a less-populated area could mean violence towards prostitutes goes unnoticed, she says.

Cinde admits that drug use is rife in the industry.

Street workers regularly use marijuana and methamphetamine while working, she says.

"It's just something we have to do to get through the night, just so we can bear it.

"It might be a slow night and the drugs help us to keep up and persevere through the night while we're waiting. We could be waiting for hours between jobs," she says.

"I do think the girls should be a bit more respectful with their drug paraphernalia rather than just leaving needles on the pavement and in the bushes.

"But trying to tell working girls that they should be more respectful is like talking to a brick wall."

Sex workers spoken to by the Manukau Courier are skeptical of NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor's proposed bill to recriminalise street prostitution and confine the trade to brothels.

Many of the sex workers at Hunters Corner and Southmall in Manurewa are transgender and brothels won't hire them, one says.

Cinde says the bill is unlikely to have any effect and prostitutes will continue to operate.

"If they move us to Waiheke Island, if they move us to the airport, the clients will just come there. It won't stop anything."

Manukau Courier