10 years ago, I hosted a TV show on TV3 called ‘STAKEOUT’. One of our first shows was an investigation on under age prostitution. We had two actresses playing under age prostitutes standing on Hunters Corner in Manukau. We filmed men driving up to the actresses and the actresses telling the men that they were under age.
Every. Single. Man. Who. Stopped. Said. ‘No worries’.
At that point me and the camera crew would step out from behind the van and immediately interview the men and demand to know why they thought it was acceptable to have sex with under age woman.
The most inane moment of the story occurred after one of the men had rung the Police and complained we were filming them. The Police then turned up to arrest me – not the men trying to buy underage woman for sex, no, me for challenging them on film doing it.
Interviewing the young woman 10 years ago, what was most obvious was the failings of the law. Police if they picked up any underage woman would drive them back home, but in many of the interviews I had with these young girls, they were being sexually abused at home so returning them to the place where they were being hurt was counter productive.
A specialist night shelter that doubles as an outreach service to help these young girls was what was required then, as it is now, but in a country where poverty is becoming more and more grinding, that compassion seems to have dried up.
I had hoped a decade ago that doing the story would have made some changes, it is terribly depressing that it did not.