New Zealand recently gained fame as the location for The Lord of the Rings film adaptation and the island nation has long been known for its kiwis – but as of next week it will also be known as one of the few industrialized nations where prostitution is legal.
Last night the New Zealand parliament narrowly passed the Prostitution Reform Bill, which decriminalizes prostitution, sets a minimum age of 18 to legally work in the industry, and gives sex workers the same rights as other employees in other business sectors.
It also imposes a licensing regime on brothels.
Members of Parliament (known as MPs) voted 60 to 59 in favor of the bill, with one abstention. Some credit to the passing of the legislation was given to a Georgina Beyer, a Labour party MP who was a former sex worker. She told of her rape at knifepoint while working in the industry.
"It would have been nice to have known that instead of having to deal out the justice myself afterwards to that person, I may have been able to approach the authorities and say I was raped and, yes, I'm a prostitute and, no, it was not right," said Beyer.
Now that the bill has passed, the law changes will take effect in one week.
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