Kiwi debater convinces Oxford Union on prostitution

Last updated 07:57 25/02/2010
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Centre-stage in the formidable debating room at Oxford Union, Catherine Healy overcame her nerves and convinced the room of the case to legalise prostitution.

Yesterday, the Prostitutes Collective national co-ordinator became the only New Zealander since David Lange 25 years ago to be invited to speak at a debate at the university.

While Mr Lange gained international attention for New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance, Ms Healy put this country's prostitution laws under the spotlight, arguing for the decriminalisation of prostitution.

She said she had to overcome nerves when preparing to speak. "It was a fabulous feeling being there . . . I got a frog in my throat, it was surreal."

Ms Healy, on a team led by the Women's Institute, was up against a police officer in charge of Ipswich, where five prostitutes were murdered in 2006.

Both sides debated with passion, she said, but she believed her team was successful - by 127 votes to 90 - because it provided solutions backed up by real experiences and research. Prostitution became legal in New Zealand in 2003, and in her argument she had highlighted the shame of the old law.

"Decriminalisation has worked. It's worked really well in giving sex workers rights and the ability to report wrongs."

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- The Dominion Post

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