Call for crackdown on street prostitution

A south Auckland community worker has backed calls for the Government to clamp down on street prostitution.

Prime Minister John Key said today he didn't think prostitution law reform had worked in New Zealand.

Now, a volunteer Pacific Community warden in the Mangere and Papatoetoe areas says it's time to introduce specified prostitution zones where workers would be issued with licences to practice.

Kehi Moana Famitau says the amount of street prostitution in south Auckland continues to rise, despite the introduction of the Prostitution Law Reform Act in 2003 which aimed to slash street prostitution and eliminate underage prostitutes.

Mr Famitau says the number of street prostitutes continues to rise, with sex workers coming into the area from Hamilton and as far away as Palmerston North and Christchurch.

"A couple of months ago there was one from Christchurch wearing only a g-string and a tee shirt ... A few weeks ago there were four from Tokoroa," he wrote in the November edition of Street Stress, a newsletter authorised by the Chairs of Otara-Papatoetoe, Mangere-Otahuhu and Manurewa Local Boards of Auckland Council.

The three local boards want controls introduced to designate where street prostitutes can and cannot solicit.

Earlier this month, the boards issued a joint letter to local and regional authorities' bosses asking for their backing of a bill before Parliament which aims to allow councils more power to control street prostitution.

Mr Key today admitted the Prostitution Law Reform Act in 2003 had not succeeded.

"The argument was that it would eliminate all the street workers and underage people, particularly girls, and the reports that we see in places like south Auckland is that it hasn't actually worked.

"I think it's been marginally successful, if at all," he told Radio Live.

While Mr Key said it was not a top priority issue for the Government to address during its current term, he accepted there was support for looking at street prostitution.

It was better to have prostitution occurring in a licensed premise, such at the proposed Chow Brothers' 15-storey brothel and hotel building in the Auckland CBD, than next to a school or other residential areas, Mr Key said.

Mr Famitau, who is also a crime prevention officer at Hunters Corner Papatoetoe shopping centre, says street prostitution is getting out of hand.

He said workers will move away from shopping areas during the day, but at night they don't listen.

"We have had three to four in the day time lately but on some nights it builds up to between 20 and 30.

"I have recently seen one woman with a child and a few intermediate school girls trying to get customers. Some are only 12 or 13-years-old."

Mr Famitau said he has often raised the idea of providing street workers with a special zone for trading, but they tell him that this is their town and they are not breaking the law.

He said the traffic lights at Hunters Corner are useful in slowing down traffic so the workers can offer their services to people in cars.

"All the time we see them having sex, mainly behind the buildings," Mr Famitau wrote in the newsletter.

He said he has seen prostitutes earning money at night and later in the week, calling in for benefit payments.

And while some could be earning as much as $1000 a night, others struggle.

- By Kurt Bayer and Kate Shuttleworth of APNZ


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