Tag Archives: New Zealand

Mai, Nicola, P. G. Macioti, Calum Bennachie, Anne E. Fehrenbacher, Calogero Giametta, Heidi Hoefinger, and Jennifer Musto. ‘Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking: The Racialized Bordering Politics of Sexual Humanitarianism’. Ethnic and Racial Studies 0, no. 0 (10 March 2021): 1–22.


The article presents the findings of the SEXHUM project studying the impact of the different policies targeting migrant sex workers in Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. It draws on the concept of sexual humanitarianism, referring to how neoliberal constructions of vulnerability associated with sexual behaviour are implicated in humanitarian forms of support and control of migrant populations. Based on over three years of fieldwork we examine the differential ways in which Asian cis women and Latina trans women are constructed and targeted as vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse, or not, in relation to racialized and cis-centric sexual humanitarian canons of victimhood. Through our comparative analysis we expose how the implication of sexual humanitarian rhetoric in increasingly extreme bordering policies and interventions on migrant sex workers impacts on their lives and rights, arguing for the urgent need for social reform informed by the experiences of these groups.

Neuwelt-Kearns, Caitlin, Tom Baker, and Octavia Calder-Dawe. 2020. ‘Informal Governance and the Spatial Management of Street-Based Sex Work in Aotearoa New Zealand’. Political Geography 79 (May): 102154.

While informality has long been studied as a feature of governance in the global South, a growing range of accounts examine informal governing arrangements as endemic to cities and nations of the global North. This paper contributes to such scholarship by drawing attention to informal practices and mechanisms involved in the spatial management of sex work in the global North. Existing literature on the spatial management of sex work has long emphasised how informality shapes local sex work practices and mediates formal state-based regulation. We synthesise these studies to suggest three modes of informal governance: as component, catalyst and alternative to formal regulation. Through a case study of street-based sex work management in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, we discuss how informal governance emerged as a de facto component of formal regulation at the national scale and an alternative to formal regulation at the local scale. Specifically, we detail how an ambiguous regulatory environment, combined with highly localised understandings of spatial appropriateness, led to and influenced the informal management of sex work through a community-level partnership between local authorities, residents and sex worker advocates. In doing so, the paper advocates for more attention to the multi-modal and multi-scalar aspects of informal governance.

Antonio Carvelli and Alexander di Nicotera came to London via Liverpool in April 1910, travelling first class on the steamer SS Frisia from Buenos Aires, and accompanied by five young women. The pair took flats in north Soho, and showed the women the route they were to walk to solicit sex. After installing these women on the West End streets, they travelled to Paris, where they found three more young women and returned with them to London, sending them out to Piccadilly as well. Dressed in nice suits and collars, with pistols tucked into their coats, they followed the women at a distance, and regularly took money from them. They frequented the cafes and pubs of Soho and dined late into the night at popular West End restaurants. The pair were finally arrested three months later, in July 1910, after a month-long police observation, and were charged with ‘procuring or attempting to procure’ four women to become ‘common prostitutes’.1 It was a stereotypical case of what was known as white slavery.  Read more here…

While the debate on regulating prostitution usually focuses on national policy, it is local policy measures that have the most impact on the ground. This book is the first to offer a detailed analysis of the design and implementation of prostitution policy at the local level and carefully situates local policy practices in national policy making and transnational trends in labour migration and exploitation. Based on detailed comparative research in Austria and the Netherlands, and bringing in experiences in countries such as New Zealand and Sweden, it analyses the policy instruments employed by local administrators to control prostitution and sex workers. Bridging the gap between theory and policy, emphasizing the multilevel nature of prostitution policy, while also highlighting more effective policies on prostitution, migration and labour exploitation, this unique book fills a gap in the literature on this contentious and important social issue.

The book is available for free under CC-License and can be shared and distributed freely from here.


Stéphanie Wahab and Gillian Abel, “The Prostitution Reform Act (2003) and Social Work in Aotearoa/New Zealand” Affilia 0886109916647764, first published on May 11, 2016 doi:10.1177/0886109916647764

Social work practice with sex workers in New Zealand occurs within a context of decriminalization since the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) in 2003. This article presents the findings of a qualitative study focused on social workers’ perceptions of sex work/ers, the PRA, and its influence on practice with individuals in the sex industry. The findings suggest that social workers hold nuanced perspectives on sex work. While decriminalization creates opportunities that support social work practice with sex workers, challenges to antioppressive, critical social work remain, even within the context of decriminalization.

Lynzi Armstrong, “From Law Enforcement to Protection? Interactions between Sex Workers and Police in a Decriminalized Street-Based Sex Industry”. Br J Criminol (2016) doi: 10.1093/bjc/azw019

Legislative approaches to the sex industry are hotly debated internationally and in recent years interest in decriminalization of sex work has been growing. However, activities relating to commercial sex remain criminalized in many parts of the world. Street-based sex work is most often criminalized and is often more aggressively policed than indoor work. This paper explores changes in the relationship between police and street sex workers in New Zealand since the decriminalization of sex work in 2003, from the perspective of sex workers, police and support agencies. This paper concludes that decriminalization enabled a dramatic shift in the approach to policing sex work and emphasizes the importance of these findings in the context of global debates on prostitution law reform.

Street-based sex work is commonly portrayed as a social nuisance in the urban landscape. However, a wealth of research has shown how sex workers on the street experience frequent harassment from other members of the public in the course of their work. This article explores the experience of street harassment among women working on the street in New Zealand, where sex work is decriminalized. In this article, I consider the social, legal, and cultural factors that underpin the street harassment that the women described. I consider the significance of this form of harassment when situated in the “workplace” of street workers in a decriminalized street-based sex industry. I argue that these experiences are inextricably linked to the continued subordination of women in contemporary society and to social norms regarding female sexuality. I argue that challenging this harassment is critical in supporting the human rights of street-based sex workers, but that doing so requires a fundamental shift in societal views on women and sexuality in general.

Sullivan, Barbara, “Rape, Prostitution and Consent”, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology August 2007 vol. 40 no. 2, pp. 127-142.


Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. However, until recently, there were significant barriers to the prosecution of those who raped sex workers. Prostitutes were seen as ‘commonly’ available to men, as always consenting to sex and thus as incapable of being raped. This article examines 51 judgments — from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — where evidence of prostitution was presented between 1829 and 2004. It demonstrates an important change in the 1980s and 1990s when, for the first time, men began to be prosecuted and convicted for raping sex workers.This change was partly due to rape law reform, but also to feminist activism and broader changes in social attitudes to rape. The article argues that sex workers have recently been ‘re-made’ in law as women vulnerable to rape, as individuals able to give and withhold sexual consent. This development needs to be taken seriously so that law and policy addressed to the sex industry works to enlarge (not reduce or constrain) the making of prostitutes as subjects with consensual capacity. This necessarily involves attention to more legal rights for prostitutes, as workers, and calls into question the conceptualisation of prostitution as always involving rape.

Full article available here. 

Armstrong, Lynzi. “Diverse Risks, Diverse Perpetrators: Perceptions of Risk and Experiences of Violence amongst Street-Based Sex Workers in New Zealand.” International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 3, no. 3 (December 1, 2014): 40–54. doi:10.5204/ijcjsd.v3i3.146.


The management of violence-related risks on the street invariably relates to individual perceptions of violence amongst street-based sex workers. This paper explores perceptions and experiences of violence amongst street-based sex workers in Wellington and Christchurch. This paper begins with an overview of how risks of violence have been conceptualised and how the diversity of these risks is reflected in the perceptions and experiences of the women interviewed. Some complexities in how these risks were constructed and managed by the women are then explored, including perceptions of the street as a work environment. To conclude, I discuss the significance of these findings in the context of debates on sex worker safety.

Full Text: PDF (329KB)

Special Issue: The Governance of Commercial Sex: Global Trends of Criminalisation, Punitive Enforcement, Protection and Rights, Criminology and Criminal Justice 14. 

Abel, Gillian M. “A Decade of Decriminalization: Sex Work ‘down Under’ but Not Underground.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 580–92. doi:10.1177/1748895814523024.

Costello, Robert, and Shady Saleh. “Book Review: The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Fall of Mass Incarceration in America.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 629–31. doi:10.1177/1748895814544425.

Kotiswaran, Prabha. “Beyond the Allures of Criminalization: Rethinking the Regulation of Sex Work in India.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 565–79. doi:10.1177/1748895814542533.

Levy, Jay, and Pye Jakobsson. “Sweden’s Abolitionist Discourse and Law: Effects on the Dynamics of Swedish Sex Work and on the Lives of Sweden’s Sex Workers.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 593–607. doi:10.1177/1748895814528926.

Pitcher, Jane, and Marjan Wijers. “The Impact of Different Regulatory Models on the Labour Conditions, Safety and Welfare of Indoor-Based Sex Workers.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 549–64. doi:10.1177/1748895814531967.

Sanders, Teela, and Rosie Campbell. “Criminalization, Protection and Rights: Global Tensions in the Governance of Commercial Sex.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 535–48. doi:10.1177/1748895814543536.

Scoular, Jane, and Anna Carline. “A Critical Account of a ‘creeping Neo-Abolitionism’: Regulating Prostitution in England and Wales.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 14, no. 5 (November 1, 2014): 608–26. doi:10.1177/1748895814543534.