New Zealand doesn’t tend to hit the headlines much around the world, although their fearsome rugby team have spent decades cracking the skulls of just about anybody who stands in their way. So it comes as something of a surprise to see two quite prominent sex-themed stories hit the wires over the last couple of days. Oddly, they are almost totally contradictory to each other. This is what happens when you don’t educate yourself on other nations; everything tends to be a total surprise.
So let’s start with the good news. It turns out that New Zealand may well be the safest and most comfortable place to be a sex worker on the planet.
In a recently-aired documentary A Lady’s Guide To Brothels, a number of New Zealand-based sex workers told the camera that thanks to the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, life has become easier, safer and more prosperous for them. As Australian site news.com.au notes, NZ sex workers sign contracts, get paid weekly, work for bosses who keep their best interests at heart and have a relationship with police that Australian prostitutes can only dream of. Prostitution is even covered under occupational health and safety laws.
The 2003 Act also decriminalized and granted freedom to an industry in desperate need of both. Workers also report feeling more secure with informing and co-operating with police when dealing with abusive clients. One anecdote recalls police marching a client to an ATM when he refused to pay and the worker picked up the phone. While there is never a perfect and flawless system, New Zealand’s approach should very much be the envy of the rest of the world. Politicians are forever going on expensive and not-at-all vacationistic ‘fact finding missions’. Maybe it’s about time somebody from our side of the world took heed and sees the benefit for themselves. A dose of reality will cure what ails you, brother and sister.
Speaking of reality, the grim side of it resurfaced in a New Zealand sex ed class when pupils were given handouts that derided women as “cheap prostitutes” that were taken from a US-based Baptist website.
The hate-filled pamphlets went on to describe gay sex as a path to “death and hell” and one section – railing against unmarried couples who co-habit and have sex – reads like the lyrics to a Ted Nugent b-side:
“A couple who lives together without marriage is a couple who has become habitual and irresponsible fornicators. He thinks she’s a fine lady, yet she’s nothing more than a cheap prostitute who allows herself to be used for his sexual gratification in exchange for what seems to be a stable and secure home life. This make-believe game may fool people, but it doesn’t fool God. This is a sin, and it will be punished!”
Keep on keeping on, Nuge… or whichever fevered dickhead decided this all makes sense.
In an even more surprising turn of events, the school and its principal defended the pamphlets and their use in a classroom. “It’s really important that kids understand a wide range of views that are out there in the community that they’re going to come across – that’s how we prepare them to be good young adults,” a school trustee told a local radio station.
“It was given out as one of many perspectives of a range of views that society holds. It wasn’t done to discriminate or offend anybody – it was to help the students in their learning.”
Even the New Zealand government have deemed the pamphlets as too far and inappropriate. But with such regressive views welcomed in their place of learning, you wonder whether workshop lessons involve smashing bits of flint on rock.