Street workers are humans, not animals



How crass, how churlish, and how crude that at a time when Christchurch sex workers are particularly vulnerable – standing on empty, dark and lonely streets, while the killers of Christchurch sex workers are still at large – some misogynist entitled male journalist comes along and announces that street sex workers are fraudulent rip off druggie scum who don’t deserve to be safe.

Newsflash – prostitution has been decriminalised since 2003. Newsflash – sex workers are human, and have rights. Newsflash – an unacceptable amount of Christchurch sex workers have been assaulted, raped and murdered over the years. Newsflash – street prostitution isn’t going to go away.

And newsflash: Sex workers are almost all not sex workers forever. Remember that, Mike Yardley. We become doctors, nurses, lawyers, journalists, politicians and more. Y’know, respectful, helpful, and powerful change agents in the world. So when we read hate speech like this, we are not impressed, and we will call you to account.

Brothels aren’t for every sex worker. Street workers have been around for a very long time, long before prostitution was legalised. So an amendment bill banning it again isn’t going to change anything. Well, not in terms of making street prostitution disappear. The only thing that a law like that will change is the loss of support, loss of rights, and the return of being too scared to reach out for help or report violence.

This proposal from the Christchurch City Council is all about safety – of sex workers and the community. It possibly won’t change much – but it is well intentioned. And as the famous quote says – ‘The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members’. And there is no doubt that street workers are among Christchurch’s most vulnerable.
I know I, and the vast majority of New Zealanders don’t want to live in a New Zealand where we reduce our most vulnerable to worthless, scummy, seedy, drug riddled, deserving-of-whatever-they-get, loathed, fraudulent animals who just need to disappear so we don’t have to see them. I mean – c’mon. What real impact does it have on your life to oh-my-goodness have to see a woman standing on the footpath at night. Compare that with being kidnapped, bludgeoned, raped, and murdered for a second.

Yeah, when you compare the two, spending a few thousand on putting facilities in an empty section to attempt to ensure safety is definitely worth it. Police investigations, court trials and housing prisoners are blardy expensive. Just saying.
Why don’t we ‘specifically outlaw street prostitution and prosecute both the seller and the kerb-crawling clients, as is the case in Scandinavia and in most Australian states’?

Because that isn’t correct. a. It’s called the ‘Nordic Model’, b. calling it a model is a myth – each Nordic country’s legislation is different, c. the seller is not prosecuted, only the client, d. it was created to deal with trafficking, not prostitution per se, and isn’t much good at that either, and e. creating by-laws in certain regions actually muddies things and weakens overall efficacy. So basically – useless. And definitely not worth copying or holding up as a cure for the terribly unpleasant and life-changing experience of seeing a woman standing on a footpath in faux fur coat and lippie.

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The Christchurch City Council should just ignore this editorial and keep developing their fantastic idea. Also badger Parliament to fund services like the NZ Prostitutes Collective and our sexual violence survivor support agencies. Badger them for a review of the Prostitution Reform Act with a view of increasing the safety and wellbeing of street workers. Anything but pandering to a journalist who publishes discriminating, disgusting hate speech.


  1. Just because prostitution is legal nowadays, doesn’t make it right.

    Most sex workers do use drugs. Why do they use drugs? So they can cope with all the dirty old men having sex with them. It often gets to the stage when a prostitute spends the majority of her ‘income’ paying for the speed she needs to get the job done!

    Men were given penises and hands for a reason.

    There would be absolutely no reason for prostitutes at all, if men learned to control their sexual urges and replace it with moral decency, or visit a psychiatrist.
    And if these women hadn’t been sexually abused as children, or raped and abused, and if there were more respectable jobs and affordable housing around for them to use in a normal life style, away from the dirty male-inspired sex industry, there would be no need for their deviant sexual services to be provided.

    They should just stop selling their lives for and to, these sleazy men!

    Opinion and belief.

  2. The best way to make a prostitute safe is to enable her or him to stop being a prostitute.

    It really is that simple.

    You are correct on the lobbying govt to provide the sexual abuse funding, and counselling, and this is partly provided for within ACC. However there needs to be much more effort put into helping them leave their dangerous profession.

    I reckon if it wasn’t for men abusing these girls in the first place, then they wouldn’t be there. Yet men made the policies that made them legal. And the men are the perverts here, not the prostitutes!
    It suits NZ men and government to have these women and girls available to carry out their perversions on.

    I would like to be able to go up to these prostitutes and offer them a new life, away from the streets and the drugs and the dirty perverts. I would like to be able to teach them about self respect, and how precious their privates truly are, and how they turn their lives around.
    If I was wealthy, I would be doing this – it would be a wonderful investment in our society.

    Opinion and belief.

    • “If I was wealthy, I would be doing this …” Why do you need to be wealthy to approach a prostitute? – and teach her self-respect and how precious her privates are? Christ your exemplar accomplished it with less than you have. What a cop-out! Like most armchair Christians you always find a reason to take your place on the sanctimonious throne of judgement, while at the same time offering pathetically weak excuses for your inaction and hypocrisy. Christ had a lot to say about people like that as I recall … and of a much more condemnatory nature than his opinion of prostitutes I might add.

        • Jesus did judge the prostitute.

          And then He forgave her, and then she was happy and grateful, and then He sent her on her way after she promised not to do this again!

          Lovely stuff!

        • @Rachael:

          “The second she said she wouldn’t deign to help”

          Who said this – not me!

          I want to help, and this discussion, as a result of your great article here, is most excellent. But it is wrong to misquote, especially when the opposite – wanting to help, is what was said! quote “I would like to be able to go up to these prostitutes and offer them a new life, away from the streets and the drugs and the dirty perverts. I would like to be able to teach them about self respect, and how precious their privates truly are, and how they turn their lives around.
          If I was wealthy, I would be doing this – it would be a wonderful investment in our society.” end quote.

          This subject that you have written about will cause many knee-jerk reactions for many readers – you must have known that when you wrote it.

          You will gain lots of support from the sleazy dirty men who pay for sex, and other people who live in this darkness!

          Why be scared of living a life in the light of goodness, and away form all that darkness?


          • I’m not looking for support from sleazy dirty men. And I also won’t get it, because ‘sleazy dirty men’ generally bag prostitutes in public then go see one in secret.
            Again, I repeat – I am pragmatically dealing with reality. Someone has to. The CCC is, the NZPC is too.
            I am no longer a sex worker, I stopped in 2008. Swapped it for advocacy and social justice policy/politics. So if we’re using your argument, I am ‘living a life in the light of goodness, away from all that darkness’ – but we do not go through these experiences for naught – and I use my experience to help others, by promoting their need for safety, support and rights.
            However, I say with some hilarity that swapping sex work for politics actually drove me down the ‘trustworthy’ list of occupations.
            Which makes me want to ensure we foster more politicians who are trustworthy, aren’t afraid of honesty and are capable of truly caring for our people.

  3. Does anyone want to glamorize prostitution?

    It is a part of the seedy underbelly of our society, and needs to be stamped out.

    And it could be stamped out, if prostitutes got the right assistance, with loving kindness.

    • I know you think you’re caring, but what it comes across as is incredibly condescending. These are not poor victims who just need some love and everything would be rainbows and light. Prostitution has been around since the first chapter of the Bible, if we’re going by that timeline. It’s clearly not something that can be stamped out.

      • It is not in the first chapter of the Bible. Money for sexual services wasn’t there then!

        I am not condescending, I am being honest.

        I regret that you feel condescended apon – that is certainly not my intent.

        Most prostitutes have been victims of sexual abuse. This is fact not fiction.

        I detest the way men further abuse these women, and men, and children all around the world – not just here in NZ.

        It is a very sick society that relishes their services, and then abuses them at the same time.

        I believe men need to get a grip, and man up, and start to show a bit of self-control over their sexual urges.

        Honestly, I reckon the best thing that a prostitute can do for herself is to realise that all that abuse was wrong, and then they should just walk away from it – because they can. They don’t need to subject themselves to continued and further abuse because they have a choice.

        In NZ we have this choice, in other countries not so much choice.

        However, if they actually like having frequent sex with random strangers, then that is their choice too.

        So sad. So sad.

        I fully agree with you about prostitutes are human beings. Trouble is the seedy men who use their services, are just that, seedy sleazy men, and I believe these human beings deserve much better. Much better.

        Opinion and belief.

      • FYI:

        The first mention of prostitution in the Bible is found in the book of Genesis Chapter 34 verse 31 (Gen 34:21) and reads as follows:

        But Simeon and Levi replied, “Should he treat our sister like a common prostitute?”

        Again in Leviticus (Lev 19:29) which says:

        Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, so that the land does not practice prostitution and become full of lewdness.

        (Rev 19:2) because his judgements are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!”

        This is the last mention of prostitute in the Bible.

          • Yes. You were right in that it was in Genesis – but its just not in the first chapter of the Bible – its in chapter 34.

            • Mistery, believe it or not, not everyone gives credence to that book or the beliefs it espouses. Personally, I put it in the same category as Grimms Fairy Tales. So to rely on it to bolster your views seems a bit futile to me.

              • @Priss:

                Well maybe you enjoy your life in the dark side of the world, and I carry on enjoying mine in the light side of the world.
                Bless you.

    • Mistery – “It could be stamped out”.


      A profession that is as old as the human race itself?

      A profession that existed even with the borders of the former USSR and former socialist states of Eastern Europe?

      If even one of the most effective totalitarian states couldn’t stamp it out, I doubt any Western society could.

      It can’t be stamped out because it relies on one of the most basic human needs – physical contact – and that will guarantee it’s existence until the human race becomes extinct. (Which, with global warming, may be sooner than we think.)

      • @Frank:

        It doesn’t rely on ‘physical contact’. It relies on sex for money, and the further abuse of damaged women and men, and children!

        There is so much more about sex for money, than a basic CHCH street walker kind of prostitute!


        • Mistery, not all sex workers engage in sex with clients. Some of them, believe it or not, just want to talk! Some men are so lonely that just talking with a girl gives them relief from their loneliness.

            • I can confirm a good chunk of sex work doesn’t involve sex at all. Men who hire prostitutes are not all scum. There are many reasons to desire a sex worker and some of them are actually quite legit. I got a lot of them because I was openly an empathetic person.
              Like the disabled guy who had a bad head injury, couldn’t find a girlfriend, and saved $5 a week just to pay occasionally to have a woman to talk to and cuddle for an hour.
              The guys who are terrified for many different reasons around trust, dating, women, having successful sex – lots of them, more of a therapist role working on self esteem, being comfortable with women, and confidence they can maintain an erection. No sex, just empathy.
              The widows, who also just seek female company.
              A guy who had always been single and liked cooking tea for someone and sharing a meal and laughter.
              Not every client a prostitute has is an asshole.

              • Ooh that is all just far too disgusting – and you are now trying to glamourise selling your body for sex, and occaisionally ‘not-sex’! But all you are actually doing is showing it to be the ‘meat-market’ is really is.

                I feel so vary sad for you.

                What as it that made you quit this profession? Was there a determining event? And if you have a husband now, does he know that you used to do this work?

                I have helped women move away from prostitution. Some were easy, some not so easy.

                Opinion and belief.

                • No, I’m not glamorising, I’m being honest. And you know that. I’m going to finish this conversation with you now because you are just trolling. What I’m doing is being real, and giving you the truth of the sex industry.
                  You won’t get personal information out of me unless you are trustworthy, respectful and empathetic, and what you’re doing is none of those things. Enough to say your assumptions are wrong.
                  I hope that one day you will wake up and stop being such an incredibly judgemental person hiding behind your moral beliefs.

                  • Well. Thankyou for the conversations so far. You did bring up the topic, and opened it up on here for discussion.

                    That it ended up a debate between the world of darkness and the world of light, is because you misquoted the Bible.

                    Hopefully some of the readers got the message from you and from me.

                    May God bless you with His very best.

  4. Wow, Mistery has some growing up to do. Mind you, living in your black & white word must be a very safe and reassuring place.
    I’ve know a few sex workers in my time, none of whom were abused or on drugs. In fact they enjoyed sex and saw it as a way to make their fortune.

    True story bro..

      • Why do you feel the need to separate yourself from ‘them’. The sleazy underbelly. It’s so judgemental and condescending, black and white and so many other varieties of not ok.
        I’m certainly not glamorising prostitution, I am pragmatically dealing with the reality in front of us. You can hold on to principles and morals and judge from afar, or you can actually do something helpful. And apologies if it wasn’t in Genesis – it certainly was a chapter or two after. The point being – this is an old ‘problem’. Solving it clearly isn’t simple.

    • I’ve known a couple of ex-prostitutes. In the hospitality industry there are likely to be a few, but the ones I worked with were happy to be off the game. They did use drugs while working.

      I think I recall the quite high figure of 60% drug-use being associated with prostitution when the discussion was being had over the legalisation issue many years ago. Regardless of how you view prostitution, by any measure this is high… and it seemed not much attention was given to it at the time.

      Look – while not agreeing with Misery’s whole viewpoint – I do understand their reasoning about occupations/decisions that damage the person, even if they are successful at it.

      For me, it could be marrying someone purely for financial gain, working in corrosive/environmentally damaging industries, working in a job you hate that results in bad health, and impacts negatively on relationships. Prostitution may/or may not be included in that list, depending on your personal circumstances. But the vulnerability and societal view of that job, makes life on the job, and out of it much harder.

      That is also a fact as true as “prostitution is the oldest profession”.

      It is one of those discussions that has continued for so long because it deserves more than a polemic “it is good” vs “it is bad”.

      It needs to be a discussion about the people involved, are those working happy, in good mental health and respected? Are their clients mentally healthy and respectful? And work towards that end.

  5. Well, that’s because it is the sleazy underbelly. It is a world full of darkness, and evil, and sin!

    And I definitely do not belong to that group of our society.

    I would love to be able to help them into a world of light and loving kindness, with much hope for a better future.

    Opinion and belief.

      • Aw. No thanks!

        It wasn’t me who brought the Bible into this mix first – it was the author of this article. Which I reckon is an awesome subject for discussion!

        I cannot understand why people are so scared of having the light in your life, and cling so desperately to the dark.

        I find it all very sad.

  6. Cough ahem I do think Yardley’s tone verges on the belligerent, Christchurch sounds like hell on wheels these days but that’s no excuse for his nastiness and he probably owns a few nice warm coats or can jet off to Egypt for a spell anyway.
    Having been pointedly told by a WiNZ case manager that (and I quote) “Prostitution’s legal now…” in other words why the bloody hell was I whinging about trying to get a job in an office, or a packhouse, or a cafe, when the street was right there? I can affirm from personal experience and I put my hand on my heart, brownies honour, “It’s not cold on the street up here, even in winter!” she smirked…and settled into her padded chair with a smile before morning tea relieved her of her duties.
    Having been advised by WiNZ to go forth and solicit on the streets with no regard to my personal safety, self esteem, mental health and hygiene, no assistance for protective clothing, concealed weapons, condoms, mace, smartphone, loudhailer, emergency beacon, first aid kit and mobile eft pos machine, no emergency bivouac, kero stove or soup, not even a sandwich, a can of coke or spliff to see me through the daunting experience of being a walking vending machine, did I consider this a realistic job offer?
    I’m going to bare my soul now as I’ve already put my hand on my heart- might as well go the whole hog- I did do this guy once, for a starter motor, not proud of this but there it was, between a rock and a hard place, broke, alone, car off the road, so no choice really.
    Mike Yardley, being a travel writer, rides on fully serviced planes most often, I’m guessing. If his fortunes turned, say, and he was in the middle of a military coup and needed spark plugs for his tiger moth and the only payment he had left, having thrown his cherished gold watch to the loyal goat herder who had shown him the safe routes across the savannah, was to provide a carnal transactions to barbarian trader holding the requisite parts…well, would he? If there way no other way to exit the damn country before shells obliterated him and his plane?
    Life, Mike, you might get a surprise! Fly up to northern Afghanistan and take them some food and first aid!
    What was I saying? Oh yeah, f f s Christchurch gotta get some safe working conditions for sex workers down there. I agree with Racheal, they are people, they’re not animals.

    • +1

      love love this

      I wonder if WINZ has ever cut off benefit payments for a woman who refused to work as a prostitute?

      It wouldn’t surprise me.

      Your comment nicely illustrates one of the many reasons women offer sexual services for payment.

      Mistery would be wise to consider that there are as many different reasons as there are prostitutes. Each person’s story and background is different. Often there’s an element of poverty / back against the wall kind of situation.

      To pass judgement and call it “sinful” and “sleazy” is to pass judgement on those people who find themselves in difficult situations. Not cool.

      • @Lara:

        Well, it is sinful and sleazy, and it is this very realisation that eventually comes to a prostitute that gets them out of this sinful and sleazy, and very dark world.


        • Your opinion has, I strongly suspect, no basis in knowledge of the actual existence and lived lives of prostitutes.

          Again; less judgement, more empathy please.

          I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of prostitutes would stop sex work if there was a safe viable alternative which paid the same or more that they could do.

    • Yardley claims, ” In fact, most street walkers are really sticking it to the taxpayer, by concurrently drawing a benefit.”. Nice bit of beneficiary -bashing. But of course this male chauvinist character offers no evidence to back up that claim.

      When a “journo” has to resort to parroting conservative cliches, I wonder at the accuracy or credibility of his writing.

      Verdict: fail.

      • Further… Just penned this letter to THE PRESS’s editor,

        FROM: “f.macskasy”
        SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
        DATE: Thu, 15 May 2014 08:44:35 +1200
        TO: “The Press”

        The editor
        “The Press”

        Mike Yardley’s diatribe against sex-workers,along with a
        swipe at social welfare, reads more like a Destiny Church
        sermon than any credible piece of journalism. (13 May)

        His claim that “most street walkers are really sticking it
        to the taxpayer, by concurrently drawing a benefit” is not
        sustained by any facts or figures. He simply throws it into
        the argument without any factual context.

        How many are “most street walkers” – 51%? 52%? 53? etc?

        And how does he know? Are there any MSD/WINZ figures he has accessed? Or has he surveyed every single sex-workers in

        Or, more likely, is he simply relying on cliches and
        stereotypes without any reference to facts?

        I don’t know what Mike Yardley had in mind when he wrote his
        piece, but it certainly wasn’t journalism.

        -Frank Macskasy
        [address & phone number supplied]

        It seems that employing the tactic of suggesting benefit-fraud is now a useful tool to validate any argument? Is this the welfare version of Godwin’s Law?

  7. Certainly the article adds little to any debate.

    But like gambling, it is not coincidental that prostitution is traditionally characterised as vice. Someone is always being exploited or brutalised. Legalising it is an attempt at harm minimisation – not always successful.

    I don’t believe that either legalising casinos and gaming machines, or soliciting and brothel keeping were in the public interest. Councils need to be very scrupulous about such matters – in this instance the CCC may have just handed the loathsome and desperately incompetent Gerry Brownlee a stick to beat them with.

    • “Someone is always being exploited or brutalised”

      you know, that’s just not true!

      There are probably a great many transactions of sexual services for payment which are mutually agreeable to both parties, where neither is brutalised nor exploited.

      Saying that prostitution is a vice where someone is always exploited or brutalised? Judging something you don’t know much about. And I think prostitutes have had enough of white middle class judgement.

      At least legalising prostitution stops police and our system from turning them into criminals. It allows them some safety and protection, they can file complaints if they’re abused or raped without fear of being locked up for being prostitutes (doesn’t mean their complaints will be taken seriously though).

      A little less judgement and a little more empathy and listening would go a long way in NZ.

      Just sayin’

        • I believe the NZ Prostitutes Collective may disagree with you there.

          And considering they’re more representative of those ones most directly affected… I think I’d rather listen to what they have to say on the matter.

          • Good for you – but though they are I am sure performing an important advocacy role their views are not necessarily determinate.

            Although in an abstract sense prostitution should not be objectionable, in the real world it involves significant problems.

            You might compare it to experimental communities like Centrepoint – in principle free love experiments are not so bad. In practice such experiments often become playgrounds for narcissists to experiment with child abuse.

            Folk who’ve been around a while become sceptical of such experiments – Jamie Whyte’s advocacy of incest was a recent example. He is ridiculed for political ineptness for airing this view. But he should have been ridiculed for its sheer folly as a social policy.

            Psychological literature supports significant reservations about incest, and prostitution too.

      • @Lara:
        “And I think prostitutes have had enough of white middle class judgement.”

        These very ones you speak of here, would surely be the largest pool for a prostitutes customer base?
        Prostitutes are always judged – especially by their customer, and in the end God!


  8. The quote You’re mentioning here Rachael ‘The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members’ comes from Bill Brereton, former Deputy Police Commissioner for North Wales who said “I think any society should be judged how it deals with vulnerable people.” It is recorded in a video I posted on my YouTube channel and Facebook page available here: Kind regards and thank You for excellent article — Paul

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