(VANCOUVER May 24, 2010) A comprehensive review on the impact of
New Zealand’s 2003 decision to decriminalize sex work definitively
shows that decriminalization is improving the lives of sex workers in
The just published book, Taking the crime out of sex work – New
Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalisation, also provides
compelling support for decriminalization in Canada,
After interviewing 772 sex workers, the book’s author Otago
University Senior Lecturer, Gillian Abel found workers are more
empowered to insist on safe sex and assert employment rights with
both brothel operators and clients and that their relationships with
police have improved.
“Across Canada and especially here in Vancouver, we have direct
experience of the horrific impact of our country’s laws against adult
prostitution, said Esther Shannon, a spokesperson for FIRST, a
national coalition of feminists that advocates for the
decriminalization of sex work.
Shannon points out that over the past two decades, the federal
government has commissioned extensive research on the impact of our
prostitution laws. The conclusion: At best, the laws are ineffective;
at worst, they contribute to increased vulnerability, marginalization
and violence against sex workers.
“New Zealand convincingly shows us there is a better way, one that
will improve safety for women while reducing violence, says Katrina
Pacey, the Pivot Legal Society lawyer who is representing Vancouver
sex workers in their Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
challenge against the law.
“And, while we often hear dire predictions that decriminalization
will lead to increased numbers of sex workers, earlier work by Dr
Abel’s refutes such claims, says Pacey, noting Abel’s findings match
other research on that issue (see attached)