Sex Workers’ Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand
The New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) is an organisation founded on the rights, welfare, health, and safety of sex workers in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. The collective is committed to ensuring the agency of sex workers in all aspects of life. After years of lobbying by the NZPC to overturn an archaic law founded on double standards, whereby sex workers and third parties were prosecuted for acts such as soliciting and brothel keeping, the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 saw the decriminalisation of commercial sex activities and allowed for third parties to operate brothels. Aotearoa New Zealand remains the only country to decriminalise most commercial sex work and endorse the rights of sex workers. Dame Catherine Healy has been with the NZPC since its inception in 1987. As the national coordinator she is a vocal lead activist and advocate for sex workers’ rights. She also publishes extensively on sex workers’ rights. In 2018, Catherine was presented with a Dame Campion to the New Zealand Order of Merit in acknowledgment for working for the rights of sex workers. Dr Denise Blake is an academic and the chair of the NZPC Board. Denise has been involved in the sex industry in a variety of roles for a number of years, and also advocates strongly for the rights of sex workers. In this interview, Catherine talks to Denise and Amanda Thomas about her work and the history of the NZPC.