The Impact of Decriminalisation on the Number of Sex Workers in New Zealand

Abel, Gillian, Lisa J. Fitzgerald and Cheryl Brunton: The Impact of Decriminalisation on the Number of Sex Workers in New Zealand. Journal of Social Policy / Volume 38 / Issue 03 / July 2009, pp 515-531

Abstract

In 2003, New Zealand decriminalised sex work through the enactment of the Prostitution Reform Act. Many opponents to this legislation predicted that there would be increasing numbers of people entering sex work, especially in the street-based sector. The debates within the New Zealand media following the legislation were predominantly moralistic and there were calls for the recriminalisation of the street-based sector. This study estimated the number of sex workers post-decriminalisation in five locations in New Zealand: the three main cities in which sex work takes place as well as two smaller cities. These estimations were compared to existing estimations prior to and at the time of decriminalisation. The research suggests that the Prostitution Reform Act has had little impact on the number of people working in the sex industry.

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