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Prostitution Law Review Committee

Legislation - Prostitution law review committee

The Prostitution Law Review Committee presented its report to the Associate Minister of Justice on 14 May 2008. The Committee's report, the Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, was tabled in the House of Representatives on 23 May 2008. A list of the Committee's recommendations can be found in the Executive Summary.

The Prostitution Law Review Committee was established under Part 4 of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 to review the operation of the Act.

The eleven members of the Prostitution Law Review Committee were appointed by the Minister of Justice. Nominations to the Committee were provided by the Ministers of Justice, Health, Police, Commerce, Local Government and the Minister of Women's Affairs in consultation with the Minister of Youth Affairs. Nominations were also provided by the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective.

The Act charged the Committee with preparing a report assessing the number of persons working as sex workers in New Zealand, and to report its findings to the Minister of Justice. The Committee's first report, The Nature and Extent of the Sex industry in New Zealand: An Estimation, was tabled in the House on 18 April 2005. The report provides baseline information on the number of sex workers in New Zealand at the time of the law change.

In addition, the Ministry of Justice commissioned a literature review to provide an assessment of the state of the sex industry in New Zealand prior to the passage of the Act. The Sex Industry in New Zealand: A Literature Review was released in March 2005.

The Committee was also required to review the operation of the Act in three to five years after the date of its commencement (28 June 2003). Research for the Committee's review started in June 2006 and concluded in late 2007. The Committee's review focused on whether the Act was achieving its prescribed purpose, as outlined below.

The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 decriminalises prostitution while not endorsing or morally sanctioning it or its use. The purpose of the Act is to create a framework that:

  • safeguards the human rights of sex workers and protects them from exploitation;
  • promotes the welfare, occupational health and safety of sex workers;
  • is conducive to public health;
  • prohibits the use in prostitution of persons under 18; and
  • implements certain other related reforms.

The review also included an assessment of:

  • the operation of the Act since its commencement;
  • the impact of the Act on the number of persons working as sex workers in New Zealand; and
  • the nature and adequacy of the means available to assist persons to avoid or cease working as sex workers.

The Committee considered whether any amendments to this Act or any other law are necessary or whether any other review is required.

The Committee's report is informed by the following research:

The Christchurch School of Medicine report The Impact of the Prostitution Reform Act on the Health and Safety Practices of Sex Workers: Report to the Prostitution Law Review Committee.

...and the Crime and Justice Research Centre reports:

Key Informant Interviews: Review of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003

International Approaches to Decriminalising or Legalising Prostitution

Exiting Prostitution: Models of Best Practice

Central Government Aims and Local Government Responses: The Prostitution Reform Act 2003.

Information was also obtained from government agencies, and territorial authorities about their responses to the Act. Government agencies were asked about any policies that were implemented as a result of the Act. Of particular interest was establishment and implementation of policies intended to assist people to exit the industry or to prevent people under 18 becoming involved in prostitution. Territorial authorities were asked about any bylaws, policies or changes to their district plans that were implemented in response to the provisions of the Act.

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