Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Local fund raising event hits world headlines


During my rounds of various blog sites this evening I stumbled across a site in the UK that had an article about a small business in a small NZ township that was opening its doors to the public for one day in order to raise funds for a local charity. This has raised the ire of a conservative Christian group. Unfortunately they are angry for the wrong reason, and I’ll come to that shortly.

Until the late 1970s New Zealand was probably the most egalitarian society on earth. With a comprehensive social welfare system and full employment poverty was almost unknown. Now we are in the unenviable position of having that fastest growing divide between rich and poor in the OECD.

The fund raising event is for a charity that provides meals to school children whose families are unable to provide the necessary nourishment. That is what the Christian group Family First should be angry about. A society that denies disadvantaged families through no fault of their own the dignity of adequate meals for their children is something that should not be seen as acceptable in a modern liberal society.

But is Family First concerned about the rise in the number of families living below the poverty line in the face of increasing national wealth? Apparently not.

So what has upset Family First?  It appears that they don’t like the nature of the business that is opening its doors for the day. It seems they would prefer children go hungry rather than allowing the public to learn how a seldom discussed business is run.

Admittedly, the type of business involved can be exploitative and is illegal in most parts of the world. Neither are are true here. It’s a legitimate business and can be found in almost every suburb in the country.

The business is a brothel and this is why Family First are so upset. But as they are firmly convinced that what goes on in private between consenting adults should be regulated and mostly banned, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by their reaction. No doubt they are firmly convinced that the plight of the disadvantaged is justly deserved punishment from God for undisclosed sins.

What I find fascinating is the number of articles this whole affair has raised in overseas publications, yet has received very little here. An extensive search of Google failed to find any NZ sources but dozens in overseas media including The Guardian and the Daily Mail. The only NZ publication I can find is the original article in the Taranaki Daily News.

While I’m no supporter of prostitution, it’s probably the oldest profession next to midwifery and unlikely to disappear any time soon. For that  reason it’s better that it’s out in the open where employment laws can make it safe for all concerned. The alternatives leaves all those involved in the industry open to exploitation and control by the criminal world.

As far as I am concerned, the greater of the two “evils” is poverty, not prostitution.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

6 thoughts on “Local fund raising event hits world headlines

  1. As far as am concerned, you are right in your conclusion. If there is any evil, it’s poverty, not prostitution

  2. I’m not surprised it’s generated so much attention, although I understand your point. Very interesting story.

  3. Very interesting post Barry. You have pointed out in the past that religion does not play a big part in politics in NZ. In most of the rest of the world be it North America, Europe, the Middle East or whatever, god and politics are intertwined. Here in North America we deny it but the truth is that politicians who pray get elected and those who don’t, don’t. And one of the planks in the Christian religion is that prostitution is bad. And remember the true meaning of politics is power. Put all that together and it becomes apparent that your government licensed prostitution will draw the wrath of our Christian media and politics.

    Personally, I am with you in that what consenting adults do is their business. I do dislike those who make a commitment to a partner and then break that commitment – but that’s another story. Helping the poor is a worthy cause, especially children. I would frown upon anyone who criticized any organization that engaged in that activity. And I frown upon Christians a great deal. I have a very strong faith but I am not enamoured of religion – I find it exclusive (when one would expect the maker of all to be inclusive), judgemental, violent and destructive.

    • You’re right. Nailing your religious flag to the mast is a guarantee that you’ll be an “also ran” and not a winner on election day. Even back in the latter decades of the 19th century we were electing free thinkers, socialists, Jews etc to office way out of proportion to their numbers in the population. I guess we’ve never looked at politicians as being powerful. They are there to serve those they represent, and in the past we had the habit of reminding them of that fact.

      It is incorrect that prostitution is licensed in NZ. Prostitution has never been illegal here. However soliciting, pimping, owning/running a brothel, and living of the earnings of prostitution were illegal. What the 2003 law changes did was wipe those crimes from the books. If a brothel has more than four sex workers, one staff member must hold a brothel operator’s licence, but prostitutes are free to ply their trade when and where they wish. The idea was to encourage the establishment of small collectives and owner operator brothels. so that sex workers would have more control over their working conditions. Prostitution is regulated just like any other job that involves health and safety issues, and of course normal employment laws apply, but no one needs a permit to solicit and sell sexual services.

      People have been betraying their partners since the beginning of time, and of those who do, it’s more likely to be something other than using the services of a prostitute. And as you say, that’s another story.

      There was very little protest from the mainline churches to the decriminalisation of prostitution, and some expressed support as they could see that harm that the old laws caused. Sex workers had no protection and exploited and abused, and were trapped into a way of life they could not escape from. Of course the fundamentalists spouted their usual vitriol, but here they get little support.

  4. Whether politics is public service or power is pretty much up in the air here. It is hard to tell how the decisions are being made.

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