Tim Weir 2007
Sex work was decriminalised in New Zealand through the Prostitution Reform Act in 2003. Among its major objectives was the protection and promotion of the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers. Preliminary research assessing the impact of the Prostitution Reform Act identified ambiguity surrounding brothel operators and the regulation of occupational health and safety in the brothel sector. Brothel operators are influential in the implementation of occupational health and safety practices of sex workers but there is a paucity of research in this area. This dissertation adds to the sparse body of knowledge. Thematic analysis was used to analyse interviews with five Christchurch brothel operators, three regulatory officers and the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective. The findings give insight into the diversity of brothel operators and their consideration for the occupational health and safety of sex workers and the Prostitution Reform Act. Perspectives of the implementation and regulation of occupational health and safety are explored. It is argued that decriminalisation has positive implications for occupational health and safety in the brothel sector but that implementation needs to be proactive for these benefits to be fully realised. This involves allocating resources and taking a promotional approach to the implementation of occupational health and safety, as well as making alterations to the Prostitution Reform Act to address some further barriers to occupational health and safety.