In many countries worldwide, sex workers have no other choice than to carry out their profession in illegal environments. Repressive policies force them to work in difficult or dangerous underground settings. They need to struggle against incomprehension, moral disapproval, prejudices, and increasing public stigmatization. Contrary to prevailing tendency in Europe and America to criminalize clients of sex workers, New Zealand decriminalized the entire commercial voluntary sex industry in 2003 by enacting the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) – as the only state in the world, so far. The implementation of this integrative sex industry policy marks a turning point in the lives and working conditions of New Zealand sex workers. Sex work became recognized as legitimate service work. Nowadays, the sex service sector in this country operates under the same legal rights as any other service sector.
In Decriminalization of Sex Work: The New Zealand Model, Joep Rottier contextualizes the historical-cultural and sociopolitical backgrounds of this integrative sex industry policy. This explorative and descriptive research provides insights in the unique role of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) – as a social movement organization – in the policy making process. Whereas successful self-organization of sex workers is recognized to be a challenge in most countries, NZPC in New Zealand offers an inspiring look at what may become possible if such self-organization does work out. By means of 119 interviews with involved key actors in the New Zealand sex industry, this book gives a unique view on de facto experiences with this policy from different perspectives. The qualitative research shows that the New Zealand Model practices what other policies mainly preach: the voices of the people most involved – the sex workers – are heard and taken seriously.