Delay on sex worker rules angers both sides

From Morning Report, 8:43 am on 26 May 2017

Sex workers and Christchurch residents are both angry that the city's council has not been able to decide how to deal with street prostitution.

The Oldest Profession, a sex worker waits on Manchester Street in Christchurch

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

St Albans homeowners have been pushing for the council to move prostitutes back into the city, after the earthquakes forced them out of a known red light district and into their neighbourhood six years ago.

Since then residents have told the council they have been abused, assaulted, and had their properties vandalised.

Residents say they have pleaded for the council to enforce their own public places bylaw or introduce new regulation.

The council decided yesterday to delay a decision again, and to set up an inter-agency group to look at solutions.

The Prostitutes Collective, which was against tighter controls, was also angry about the delay.

Its national co-ordinator, Catherine Healy, said she hoped the council would rule out regulation and instead look at options such as building infrastructure in areas sex workers could sell their services without disrupting residents.

"It's very frustrating ... it's time and energy for us and there is still uncertainty for residents and sex workers," she said.

The council is expected to make a decision based off the findings of the working group in September.