Sex workers welcome sentence

The Prostitutes Collective has welcomed a nine-year jail term imposed on a man convicted of raping a Christchurch prostitute.

The woman had believed she was going to die in the early-morning encounter with Rufus Joseph, 21, after the threats he made.

Prostitutes Collective regional collective Anna Reed was in court for much of the trial and for the sentencing by Christchurch District Court Judge John Macdonald today.

She said afterwards: "We are really pleased with the courts recognising that 'no' means 'no' and that a sex worker has the same rights as anybody else. The sentencing has reflected this."

Joseph has been living and working in New Zealand for two and a half years after travelling from India. He will be deported at the end of his sentence.

Judge Macdonald said Joseph had taken the woman to a dark garden at Mona Vale and when she resisted going any further he had overcome her resistance with threats.

He had spoken of friends nearby who might gang-rape her and asked her if she wanted to die. He had talked of another prostitute being scarred, and he took her cellphone off her when she tried to call 111.

At the trial, she gave evidence of believing she would be "the next woman found in the Avon River".

Joseph maintained that the woman tried to rip him off after reaching agreement for sex.

Joseph admitted in his statement to the police that he had made threats and that she had repeatedly said she wanted to leave.

The jury convicted him on a charge of detaining the woman, two counts of sexual violation by oral sex and two of rape.

Judge Macdonald said the incident had been life-changing for the woman. She now felt lonely and isolated, and less confident around people. She had nightmares and flashbacks.

"There has been some positive outcome," said the judge. "What you did to her made her confront and overcome her addiction to morphine."

He said Joseph had exploited or taken advantage of the woman's vulnerability, but prostitutes were entitled to the same protection as anybody else.

He reduced the sentence for Joseph's age and the difficulties he faced for a long prison term so far from his home and family. He noted Jpseph had only one previous conviction, for drink-driving.

He imposed a nine-year jail term and read him a first-strike warning, which could not be done when the jury delivered its five guilty verdicts because Joseph was so upset.

The Press