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18 February 2013

I’m not and never was against legalizing prostitution but at the time of the law change I commented to friends that it could make problems in areas that the law-makers hadn’t thought of. An example of this has just occurred overseas when a German teenager looking for a job was told to report for duty in a brothel by the local labour office. Not actually as a prostitute, thank heavens, but as a waitress in their restaurant. The 19 year old was horrified as was her mother when the girl got a letter saying that she was to start at the Colosseum Brothel bar. The labour department there has since admitted that it was an error, that they should have phoned the girl first to see if she wanted the job, not flatly directed her to start work there.

So what relevance does this have to New Zealand? Quite simply that prostitution is legal in Germany, just as it’s legal here. And what do you want to bet that some day someone in a New Zealand labour department office does the same thing. (Probably because they don’t recognise the business’s name) And the fact is, that prostitution or any other job in a brothel that exists legally, is lawful employment. Legally an unemployed person can be told to begin work or be penalized by the department for refusing lawful work. No doubt our Department of Unemployment would protest that it would never do that. But then, I daresay they would have said the same in Germany – until very recently.

And yes, this was what I had in mind when I was commenting on the law change and why in my opinion subsequent possibilities should have been looked at and provided for. However it’s possible to go further. Being a prostitute is legal work. If a brothel phones Unemployment and asks for applicants, it would be lawful for the department to send women (or men.) And if they’re offered work as prostitutes, they could then be penalized for any refusal to accept the employment offered. It isn’t likely, not here, not yet. But that does exist as a possibility within the law. And if in 20 or 30 years, unemployment soars? If the Government begins to take a hard line on the unemployed refusing work, then maybe this useful loophole will be exploited as a way to either get unemployed into work, or off their books. Maybe some MP should be considering tweaking these areas surrounding legal prostitution now, before unemployment soars…

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