Occupational Health and Safety of Migrant Sex Workers in New Zealand

Roguski, Michael (2013): Occupational Health and Safety of Migrant Sex Workers in New Zealand. URL: http://www.nzpc.org.nz/images/Migrant_Workers.pdf

Executive Summary 

In late 2011 the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) commissioned Kaitiaki Research and Evaluation (Kaitiaki) to undertake research to provide an in-depth understanding of issues facing migrant sex workers in New Zealand, with a particular focus on occupational health and safety, and sexual reproductive health. It was intended that the research would provide an evidence base from which NZPC could develop and provide migrant-relevant advocacy and services.
Specific research objectives included:

  • understand the New Zealand sex work context in which migrants are working
  • identify the specific needs of migrant sex workers with regards to –
  • occupational health and safety needs
  • sexual and reproductive needs
  • any other needs that may contribute to the general health of migrant sex
  • workers
  • identify barriers and facilitators to migrant sex workers’ receipt of appropriate services and/or required assistance.


The study utilised a mixed method approach. First, 12 in-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews were carried out. The aim of the interviews was to contextualise and explore the occupational health and safety needs of migrant sex workers from multiple perspectives, highlight the specific needs of migration sex workers and to identify the barriers and facilitators to accessing services. Participants were selected because of their in-depth knowledge of migrant sex worker experiences or, in the case of the New Zealand Immigration Service, an in-depth understanding of legislation and policy pertaining to migrant sex workers.
A review of anonymised migrant sex workers’ sexual and reproductive health clinic records was also undertaken. The review involved a census of migrant sex Yorker Files (n=51) and a random selection of non-migrant sex worker files (n=51) from the 2007 calendar year to 31 July 2012. The aim of the review was to explore whether any trends could be identified which would then inform the focus of key informant interviews.
Finally, a total of 124 migrant sex workers completed a paper-based survey over a threemonth period beginning June 2012. Participants were required to be migrant sex workers aged 18 years and over, having lived in New Zealand for no more than six years and to have worked in the sex industry over the last five years. The survey was translated into Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. In addition, participants had the option of respondier to the survey in English.


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