Wahine Toa Rising is survivor led and supports Wahine Toa (Warrior Women) & Tamariki (Children) who have been & continue to be exploited in the sex trade in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is particularly relevant to this Committee as New Zealand is a jurisdiction that has decriminalised prostitution.
Ally Marie Diamonds is a survivor of prostitution from New Zealand. WTR has recently produced a booklet with the Coalition against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA) which addresses 16 myths about prostitution and the sex trade.
WTR attaches the booklet and relies on the matters in it in this submission. Diamonds will speak to those matters in oral evidence before the Committee.
Diamonds’ further Submission
First, I would like to thank the Committee for this chance to be heard.
Sadly, I don’t feel those who support total decriminalisation of prostitution are educated on Aotearoa New Zealand at all, only hearing maybe what they want to hear while ignoring the voices of those who matter – and that’s our most vulnerable women and children, the majority of which are women and children of colour.
If they truly want to make an informed choice, if anyone does, then they need to hear from all sides not just the ones who yell the loudest. They need to hear from those who are constantly silenced, those too afraid to speak up for fear of reprisal, those who fear for their lives every moment of everyday, those who suffer in silence. Listen to what you cannot hear and look where others are too blind to see. That is us, the survivors and especially the survivors who are women of colour like me.
If you look for it you will see the suffering; or is it that the suffering is too painful for people to look at, so they ignore it completely?
I’m so exhausted from over explaining. It really is so simple. Once you take the glamour away that so many seem to promote, and peel back the layers, you truly see what needs to be seen. The ugliness, the fear, the shame, the poverty, the sadness, the darkness. Our most vulnerable woman and children.
“While some women may choose the sex trade and don’t experience coercion, these women are the minority. We need to meet the needs of the most marginalized in the sex trade, who are coerced into selling sex due to life circumstances such as poverty. Most importantly we need to STOP, LISTEN, and show vulnerable women our respect by HEARING them, and SEEING them. Let’s focus on the choices of men and governments and think about whether a trade that exploits those with few other choices is one we want to see flourish. “
Quoted from 16 Myths
Is it not the job of Governments, Politicians, Leaders to protect our communities, to make them safer, to protect our most vulnerable? How and why then are they being ignored? Why are they not being heard in this debate? Why are they not being valued?
In the 16 myths of the sex trade booklet, we talk about the most common myth – that Sex work is safe if it is fully decriminalized. I set that out now.
“It is argued that the sex trade is safe if it is fully decriminalised. Yet this is not the case — and the experiences of women in Aotearoa, New Zealand’s sex trade post-decriminalisation are evidence of this. Since full decriminalisation in 2003, under the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA), violence and sexual assault within prostitution have remained, and some women have even died at the hands of sex buyers. A report by Aotearoa, New Zealand’s Prostitution Law Review Committee, noted that women in the sex trade were still vulnerable to ‘exploitative employment conditions’ and that there were ‘reports of some sex workers being forced to take clients against their will’. The report went on to note that ‘the majority [of women interviewed] felt that the PRA could do little about the violence that occurred’. This same report also refers to the sexual assault that women routinely experience in prostitution as ‘adverse work experiences. The risk
still inherent in this decriminalised sex trade is underscored by advice offered by the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective document ‘Stepping Forward’. When ‘dealing with violent clients’, the document advises: ‘Make as much noise as possible to attract attention. Try calling FIRE, a passerby will probably pay more attention. If you wear a whistle around your neck, blow it in his ear’. Decriminalisation promotes women and girls as objects to be purchased, fuels men’s entitlement and contributes to societal misogyny. A society that enables this is not ‘safe’ for any woman. In contrast, the Nordic/Equality Model, a system which has been adopted by Sweden,
Norway, Israel, Canada, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and France, decriminalises people selling sex and supports them to exit the sex trade. It also criminalises sex buyers, pimps and procurers and aims to inform and raise awareness about the harms caused by prostitution.
Don’t women deserve better than a system that normalises men’s sexual entitlement and abuse of us?
Don’t our future generations deserve better than a system that normalises the buying and selling of women and children?”
Sex trade advocates say that women have a right to choose what they do with their bodies. Therefore, it is only right we ensure all women in the sex trade have real choice to begin with. This is why exit services are crucial.
The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes ‘Freedom from Fear’ as an important right. Therefore, regardless of law, it is essential that countries provide funded services to give women and young people who are being sexually exploited in the sex trade a means to safely exit, and live free from fear.
Be Brave, Courageous, Lead the nations by:
• Holding buyers accountable, and re-educate them that the buying and selling of
vulnerable women and children is not ok;
• Holding the pimps, managers, and those who profit of our most vulnerable accountable;
• Importantly support women and children to exit, to heal, to support them to dream again,
and know they are so much more valuable than a piece of meat, or a product, or
someone’s play toy.
• Women and children deserve so much more than this. Our women and children of colour have fought to be seen, heard and valued. Yet here Governments, leaders and politicians are still ignoring their cries for help, still turning their backs on them, still not
hearing or seeing them as valued equal members of their communities.
Wahine Toa Rising also advocates for Tamariki (children) as there is now considerable evidence that the normalisation of exploitation leads to more of our Tamariki being involved in the sex trade.
The website is run by an amazing woman who is studying prostitution in New Zealand, Germany and other places. This link explains why there is so much child exploitation in New Zealand
It is important to note that Sexual exploitation can have serious short and long-term physical, psychological and social impacts for victims/survivors; further impacts are also experienced by families and support networks, communities, and the wider society.
Those exploited are at an increased risk of such things as:
- Physical injuries due to violence – Bruises, scars and other signs of physical abuse and torture often in areas not visible such as lower back
- Physical injuries due to sexual violence
- Increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections
- Increased risk of contracting HIV
- Pelvic pain, rectal trauma and urinary difficulties
- Complications due to pregnancy
- Infertility from chronic untreated sexually transmitted infections or unsafe abortions
- Cancer, Diabetes, and other illnesses
- Infectious diseases like tuberculosis
- Serious dental problems
- Physical effects due to substance use
- Psychological impacts:
- Psychological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural disruptions
- Self-harming behaviour and suicidality
- Substance abuse
- Personality disorders
- Debilitating feelings of guilt and shame
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Stockholm Syndrome/Trauma Bond
Social impacts can include but not limited to
- Socialisation issues leading to limited social and interaction skills
- Limited ability to conduct basic skills including accessing financial assistance, employment or housing search, education
- Accessing basic necessities
- Lack of trust leading to reliance on trafficker
- Difficulty integrating into society following trafficking situation
- Difficulty integrating into home or family dynamics
- Fear of stigma and isolation
ECPAT Alert NZ shows us that the average age of our tamariki to be introduced into the sex trade is 11 –14 years of age, New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of 31 OECD countries. These are the Impacts Exploitation has. (It is important to note that many of
our tamariki will go from child to adult in the sex trade, as many have before them.
If we don’t work together now to put things in place to end sexual exploitation, we define a future for our young people and our communities that being exploited is normal.
Please see this Website to learn about the current situation around Child Sexual Exploitation in Aotearoa in NZ a country that introduced Full Decriminalisation in 2003. Read through the following publications and ask yourself if this is the future you want for the children of South Australia.
Download 16 myths against the sex trade here, or see attached file.
Sex trade harm exposed in survivor-led trans-Tasman campaign
I will leave you with this quote from myself
So, what supporters of the sex trade are really saying is that vulnerable women and children’s lives who are being coerced, forced and trafficked should be sacrificed for the few women who feel “empowered” by being bought and sold for sex?
— Ally-Marie Diamond, Survivor of the Sex Trade
WTR and Diamonds will be willing to give oral evidence to the Committee
Signed Ally Marie Diamonds
Wahine Toa Rising
Dated this day 20 April 2021