Thursday, October 21, 2004

The great prostitution referendum

Two United Future MP's have been attempting to generate interest in their referendum seeking a repeal of the Prostitution Reform Act, because they think prostitution is sinful and harmful. And it can be. Helen Clark calls it "abhorrent." They need 310,000 signatures in a year. So far, - with a week to go - they have got about 80,000. Closing date is October 27. Only 230,000 signatures to go, more than 40,000 a day.

The online petition can be found at Stop the Abuse, which has listed 10 reasons why current the Prostitution laws are not working. I have seen no evidence for at least seven of these points, such as an increase in drugs, gangs and women in the industry. .

Groups such as Vision New Zealand and Radio Rhema are right behind the cause - with Vision Network saying that the United Nations "reflects God’s view well" in its opposition to prostitution, as
The UN Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women - CEDAW - (which NZ ratified in 1979), states: “Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic of women and exploitation of the prostitution of women”
Members of a key women's committee at UN also condemned the PRA saying "regardless of whether it was a matter of free choice, prostitution was oppressive and humiliating, for it was about men paying money to use women as less than human beings" (NZ Herald 19/20 July 2003)

While that is true, what is not said is that The UN has called on China to decriminalise prostitution. Also, while it urged Germany "to recognize that trafficked women and girls are victims of human rights violations in need of protection, it also expressed concern "that although they are legally obliged to pay taxes, prostitutes still do not enjoy the protection of labor and social law." Even more blatant, its report on Greece stated, "While noting positively the fact that prostitution is decriminalized and instead is dealt with in a regulatory manner, the Committee is concerned that inadequate structures exist to ensure compliance with regulatory framework."

So the UN does not subscribe to the conservative Christian perspective at all. It has positively noted that NZ has decriminalised prostitution (and when I find the link I`ll post it.) I think this referendum is akin to flogging a dead horse. People just don’t care. If they did care they would have lobbied their MP's, and they would have made submissions to the select committee at the time.

Some people care more that the Government is proposing a civil union bill, and a foreshore and seabed bill, which is reflected in the number of submissions for and against.

Why do you think the US Senate does not want to ratify CEDAW? Legalised prostitution is one of the reasons. If people were so concerned at the legalisation/decriminalisation of prostitution, then why didn`t they petition and complain against NZ's ratifying of CEDAW in the first place?


Greyshade said...

With a few exceptions sex workers take up their careers out of need/desperation rather than a positive choice. It is a free choice but taken because they consider it the lesser evil. That makes prostitution a symptom of poverty, injustice and misery - not the primary disease.
Banning it simply forces the women faced with that choice to choose the greater evil or, more often, make the same choice but with the additional dangers associated with criminalisation.

If a man tells a feminist what she should do to be liberated and equal she will rightly call him a patronising git (or worse). If a person of either gender tells a prostitute what to do (or not do) in order to escape from their degrading exploitation how is that different?

Anonymous said...

Rather like our own vanished antifeminist groups of the eighties (Women for Life), US antifeminist groups
like the so-called Concerned Women for America have gone on the warpath against CEDAW. Personally, I'd feel a lot more comfortable about the anti-UN outlook
of these organisations if they weren't so permissive when it comes to infiltration from the far right.