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Street-based sex workers in the Community: exploring community tensions, and experiences of violence and coercion

This research aims to explore the environment in which street-based sex work happens in New Zealand. While sex work was decriminalised in 2003 there are on-going tensions between street-based workers and the community within which they work.

There have been a number of submissions made to Parliament and two Members Bills have been debated which have sought to address the issue of street-based sex work through proposed amendments to the Prostitution Reform Act. There is also a lack of clarity about the extent of violence and exploitation experienced by street-based workers.

This study will take a community-based action research approach to explore these issues. In-depth interviews will be conducted with up to 30 street-based sex workers in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, as well as interviews with outreach workers, community members, local council representatives and Police.

A reference group consisting of representatives from New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, Police, City Councils and the community will meet every four months over the two years of the project to discuss emerging findings and possible interventions to address issues such as community tensions and violence.

By taking this approach it is more likely that the research will inform local body policy to address the key concerns of community, and also provide for a potentially safer street-based sex work sector through appropriate interventions and relationship building.