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"Sex workers have the same human rights as other workers"
February 28, 2014 6:33 PM   Subscribe

A sex worker has been awarded $25,000 as compensation for sexual harassment from her manager.

The Herald's coverage.
Full text of the decision (pdf), which is the first or one of the first cases dealing with sexual harassment of sex workers.

A quick guide to the case:
paragraphs 8-44: Plaintiff's evidence.
paragraphs 55-65: Evidence of Catherine Healy, head of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective.
paragraphs 66-84: Defendants' evidence.

As in many cases involving workplace sexual harassment, the decision came down to an choice of believing the plaintiff and the defendant. This is the part to read if nothing else, paragraphs 84-99. Choice quote:

[90] The strong impression gained by the Tribunal was that he is a person over-confident of his abilities, if not arrogant. His self-described role as “protector” of the sex workers at the Kensington has led him to be overbearing and exploitative, thinking that his sex, size and management role have given him a licence to do as he wishes and to behave as he likes towards the sex workers at the Kensington.

The law is discussed and contextualized from paragraphs 99 onward. Choice quote:

[111] If in a brothel language or behaviour of a sexual nature could never be considered unwelcome or offensive sex workers would be denied the protection of the Human Rights Act.
posted by Lemurrhea (22 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is fantastic. Well done, New Zealand.
posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on February 28 [22 favorites]


!!!

This is a great ruling.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:45 PM on February 28


"thinking that his sex, size and management role have given him a licence to do as he wishes and to behave as he likes towards the sex workers at the Kensington."

Granted, this is the kind of thinking held by the law makers in other countries that keeps sex workers from doing their job in safe and affirming environments.

Hooray for New Zealand setting a different example.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:45 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


That's good precedent
posted by destro at 6:48 PM on February 28


Well done, indeed.
posted by SPrintF at 7:01 PM on February 28


This is exactly why prostitution and other sex work must be legal. It's better for everyone from the individual level on up to all of society.
posted by Justinian at 7:02 PM on February 28 [13 favorites]


Good!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:11 PM on February 28


As far as getting legalization right, New Zealand wins, hands down.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 7:18 PM on February 28


Prostitution has been officially legal in NZ for over 10 years (previously brothels were "massage parlours") and although it has been unpopular amongst some communities has proved to be more successful than expected in terms of its association with organised crime.

This entry in Wikipedia illustrates how much of a spectrum (rainbow?) NZ politics is:

The Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) passed its third reading on 25 June 2003. This bill passed narrowly; of 120 MPs, 60 voted for it, 59 against, and one politician, Labour's Ashraf Choudhary, the country's only Muslim MP, abstained. The result was a surprise as most commentators had expected the bill to narrowly fail. An impassioned speech to parliament by Georgina Beyer, a transsexual and former sex worker, was believed by many observers to have persuaded several wavering MP's, possibly including Mr. Choudhary, to change their votes at the last minute.

At the very least, it has allowed the prostitutes to have a say in the courts.
posted by arzakh at 7:22 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


That sounds like a fantastic precedent. Kudos to New Zealand.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:45 PM on February 28


What abusive guys find attractive about the business of abusing sex workers is the opportunity to abuse sex workers.

And the money, of course.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:51 PM on February 28


This entry in Wikipedia illustrates how much of a spectrum (rainbow?) NZ politics is:

The joys of Mixed Member Proportional.
posted by zamboni at 7:52 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


This is good. Sex workers need at least as much protection against harassment as workers in other trades, in fact they really need more.
posted by happyroach at 8:05 PM on February 28


Hmm, that's different. It is really good ruling.
posted by webhealth at 9:07 PM on February 28


On the whole, employment law in NZ works well. Not perfect of course (and the current government keeps trying to break it), but generally reasonable and humane. It's something I'm proud of as a kiwi.
posted by shelleycat at 12:04 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Excellent news!
posted by greenhornet at 1:46 AM on March 1


Heh, I thought about titling the FPP "Regulation. It works" but didn't want to editorialize right out of the gate.

This comes at an interesting time up here in Canada, our Christmas gift was the Supreme Court striking down the prostitution laws and requiring the government to remake them (or, not) in a way that isn't disproportionately harmful to sex workers. (previously)

So until the 17th, the government is hosting public consultations on what model should be adopted. I suspect that this is going to get brought up a lot in those consultations - I found out through a friend who's doing her masters of law on regulation of prostitution.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:32 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's great! Go NZ!
posted by goo at 7:52 AM on March 1


NZ is one of the few countries in the world I'd happily leave Canada for with nary a second thought. This is just adding to the "Hmm, maybe when I retire..." argument.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:53 PM on March 1


Well done.
posted by homunculus at 8:14 PM on March 1


On the whole, employment law in NZ works well. Not perfect of course (and the current government keeps trying to break it), but generally reasonable and humane. It's something I'm proud of as a kiwi.

As someone who spent over 7 years as the HR manager for a large company in New Zealand I can attest to this statement. In particular the mediation processes work well and often as not disputes are resolved at the informal, mediation level. Not always of course. And it tends to be the smaller firms who are most likely to act in an egregious manner, as in this case. There are some shocking examples out there e.g. employees being fired via text. I am pleased we don't have the "employment at will" provisions found elsewhere, and likewise I am pleased we have don't have overly restrictive union practices either. Aggrieved employees can lodge personal grievances relatively easily and relatively cheaply. Often the biggest cost is the emotional one when taking a grievance against your employer or ex-employer - as I am sure was the case here.

Anyways, a good decision and like other Kiwi mefites, I too am proud of it and what it says about our society.
posted by vac2003 at 9:06 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in Minnesota: a worker's right to urinate in a cardboard box was litigated, and eventually won.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:41 PM on March 2


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