Press Release – Stop Demand
The green light given for the proposed expansion of the red-light district in the Auckland CBD, is disappointing but unsurprising, says Stop Demand Foundation.
Stop Demand, which works to stop the sexual exploitation and sexual denigration of women and children, was one of 220 submitters opposing the Wellington-based Chow brothers’ application to set up shop in Auckland. Only one submitter gave conditional support.
The application for resource consent for the 15-story building was heard by four Hearings Commissioners earlier this month. Today the Commissioners released their 50-page decision, granting consent subject to various conditions. Those conditions had no bearing on the proposed brothel-cum-sex hotel and strip clubs which are deemed “permitted activities”.
Stop Demand’s founder, Denise Ritchie, says “Any frustration about the expanding sex industry can be sheeted home to the 60 MPs, mostly Labour and Greens, who nine years ago voted to decriminalise and normalise prostitution and the commercial sex industry. It’s a simple case of, we reap what we sow.”
In its submission, Stop Demand urged the Commissioners to take a wide interpretation of the Resource Management Act as regards the impact on people and communities, social conditions, the interests of Aucklanders over the Wellington-based Chows and sex tourists, and the growing perception of New Zealand as a sex tourist destination.
It also expressed concerns at the adverse effect and high probability of violence against prospective young women employees, highlighting a 2008 Ministry of Justice report which found that of those working in the brothel sector post the law change, 10.4% had been physically assaulted by clients and 3.3% had been raped by a client.
Denise Ritchie says, “It’s disappointing to see where New Zealand is headed when you compare us to a country like Iceland which has outlawed brothels and strip clubs, with growing support from its male population.” Prostitution, in such countries, is seen as a relic of outdated patriarchal attitudes. Yet New Zealand seems determined to reinforce and entrench gender disparities which lie at the heart of prostitution. She says, “New Zealand has taken a liberal, adolescent approach by encouraging prostitution compared to mature, progressive countries like Iceland and Sweden that actively discourage such activities, working instead to encourage greater respect and equality between genders.”