Monday, July 09, 2007

Hysteria in hicksville

Saturday's Manawatu Standard had an appalling excuse for "journalism" gracing its front page, in the form of one of its regular beat-ups about prostitution in Palmerston North. The headline screams "More young sex workers active in city" (it was originally "Underage sex workers hit Palmerston North"), and the intro talks of an explosion in sex workers, "some underage". But the evidence for the former is a quote from a brothel owner complaining about possible competition, and no evidence is presented at all for the latter, either in the article itself or the accompanying magazine piece (offline). So, a businesswomen's self-interest becomes a front-page "problem".

And then there's the police. The Standard quotes a police officer as essentially complaining that now prostitution is no longer a crime, its no longer a crime (well duh!) and that they therefore can't treat prostitutes like criminals. But the worst is their allegation that decriminalisation has given gangs "an 'open run' to own and manage brothels or parlours". Hardly. According to the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, owners and operators of brothels and parlous must be licensed - and licenses are not available to people with criminal convictions. So, if gangs are running brothels in Palmerston North, it is because the police are not doing their jobs properly, not because of any deficiency in the law.