The judicial system and sex work in New Zealand

Bridie Sweetman, “The judicial system and sex work in New Zealand” Women’s Studies Journal, Volume 31 Number 2, December 2017: 61-68

Sex work policy is a highly contentious topic. Various political approaches attempt to repress it, restrict it, or integrate it. This paper canvasses repressive approaches, restrictive approaches and the New Zealand model, which decriminalises sex work. The latter is then examined through a human rights lens, with five specific human rights discussed: the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to safety, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to freedom of association, and the right to health. This is accompanied by an examination of how the New Zealand judiciary have used the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 and other laws to protect and promote the rights, welfare and health and safety of sex workers. The article concludes by expressing a hope that the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 and New Zealand case law can serve as precedent for other jurisdictions when considering sex work law and policy.

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