A young mother, eight months pregnant with her second child, is selling her body and the unborn baby’s dad is acting as her pimp.
He also often joins in on the money-for-sex sessions.
Child welfare advocates are shocked by Sunday News’ discovery and are demanding authorities investigate the couple, who have been offering their joint services for the past fortnight.
“That’s an absolutely horrific and shocking story. As a child advocate, I would say, ‘What on earth does that mean for that baby’?’’ families commissioner Christine Rankin said.
"For that baby, I just despair because what kind of world is it being brought into in terms of its parents?," said Rankin.
"That's what's wrong with us (New Zealanders), we think anyone's allowed to do anything they like in terms of their children.
"Well, they're not and I'm sure CYF will be very interested in this case and surely have huge concerns for the baby."
CYF can apply for custody of the couple's unborn child through the Family Court if they believe it's at risk. "This isn't about judging this woman. It's about making sure her children are loved and protected," CYF chief executive John Harvey told Sunday News.
Children's Commissioner Dr John Angus said without knowing the couple he "cannot comment on the situation".
The couple – Lacey, 20, and James, 23 – not their real names – have a two-year-old daughter, who was born with a rare skeletal condition and needs full-time care. She is in the custody of James's mother.
Her toys are stacked in a box by the couple's TV, she's the screensaver on their laptop computer and her picture is displayed in picture frames on the wall of their Hamilton flat.
The couple, who Sunday News have agreed not to identify, don't believe they need to defend their occupation and say it's a short term venture to make money for their son, due later this month.
Their clients always use protection, and the couple believe there's little risk to their unborn child's welfare. "Who is anyone to judge us ... who knows what they're doing in their own homes," said James .
Lacey [her "working name'] said she understood the criticism but said it was her body and her decision. She is "totally against" drinking during pregnancy.
"If I was on the outside looking in, I'd think there was a problem, that it's wrong. But this is my life. It's a financial thing. I can justify it to myself," she said.
Lacey's advertisement – on online prostitute directory, New Zealand Girls – says she's 18-years-old, "pregnant, lactating and randy as hell". The ad goes on to say she has a "lovely round belly" and a "real glow about me".
Lacey charges $160 an hour, $120 for half an hour, or $80 for a limited no-sex service. She and bisexual James also work together, charging $220 an hour or $150 for half an hour. During the hour-long interview with Sunday News, the couple's phone rang constantly. When we left, a client was on his way to their home.
Harvey said despite CYF being concerned about the safety of the couple's unborn son, they are powerless to act until a complaint is lodged. He said CYF couldn't make assumptions based on the couple's occupation.
The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective said it was "highly unusual" for prostitutes to work while pregnant and believed both parents offering sex services at once, and together, is a first for this country.
NZPC spokeswoman Catherine Healy urged Kiwis not to judge the couple. "For some sex workers (pregnancy) would be an instant reason to stop sex work. For others, they'd say it's not realistic and, `I don't have anything else to fall back on in terms of income'."
This is the second time Lacey and James have gone into business selling themselves for sex since meeting four years ago.
The birth of their first child with a rare skeletal condition was the catalyst for the decision. Their daughter will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
It took doctors three months to diagnose the condition. By then the couple's relationship was in tatters, having blamed themselves for their daughter's congenital disorder.
After moving in with James' mother in a rural Waikato town, Lacey suffered post-natal depression and eventually had a mental breakdown and had hospital treatment.
The pair then moved back to Hamilton and lived off Lacey's Domestic Purposes Benefit until they got sick of, "living off $400 a week," and started looking for jobs. When that failed, Lacey suggested being a prostitute. By then the couple had already been paid for sex.
A workmate of James' had paid to film them having intercourse, and a male stranger they met on the internet paid to have a threesome with them. "We've always been about a quick buck," James said.
The next day Lacey entered a brothel and within an hour she was a working girl. In her first shift she made $900, $300 alone from her first client who "didn't even want sex ... he just watched TV and drank".
The couple got Sky television installed because when Lacey worked, James couldn't sleep. "I'd text her between each client. It was horrible," James said.
But the money had them hooked. "I'd get insecure, ask her, `Was he better than me?', then she'd get sh*tty at me, throw a pile of cash at me. Then I'd look at the cash, think about it and say, 'Sorry babe, I didn't mean it,' and life would go on," James said.
Lacey started working from home, then from a flat in Auckland where her life spiralled out of control. Jealousy got the better of James and he did something he's regretted since. "People started throwing drugs at her (Lacey), meth, whatever. Men offered to take her to Australia, to Fiji, offered her cars ... I was getting fazed out.
"All I could offer her was a clean house and to help her spend her money," James said.
So, "in a jealous rage" James confessed all to his mother. Within days James' mother had an interim custody order for their daughter.
"I was off the rails. I was going crazy, banging my head against the walls and pulling my hair out, because I'd ruined my life. I'd realised what I'd done, that I'd lost my little girl ... I'd lost everything," Lacey said. The pair quit the game and straightened up.
They were broke and living in a van and Lacey was pregnant again. James tried to get his old job back in Hamilton but failed a drugs test.
He toyed with the idea of being a male prostitute but there was no money in it. The pair identified a gap in the sex trade for pregnant prostitutes. Messageboards on the New Zealand Girls' website contain several requests from guys looking for pregnant or lactating women. Last year an Auckland prostitute called Jordan worked throughout her pregnancy.
James placed an advert online and within an hour the couple's phone rang. Within two, they had their first client. By the end of the day the pair had seen five clients, and by the end of the first week made almost $2000.
"I actually feel safer doing it while I'm pregnant," Lacey said. "It's more about what I want than the client ... no one expects to throw you around."
James takes the calls, weeds out the "weirdos" and remains at their property during bookings, even greeting them at the door: "I say, 'Gidday, have fun, see you later'."
Clients are mainly older men. But the service is short term. Next week their advert expires and they will quit for good. James hopes to get a job and be the "breadwinner again," and to get their daughter back. If that doesn't work, both admit a return to prostitution is likely.
- © Fairfax NZ News