Policy Press

Taking the crime out of sex work

New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation

Edited by Gillian Abel, Lisa Fitzgerald, Catherine Healy, with and Aline Taylor


May 19, 2010

Page count

280 pages




240 x 172 mm


Policy Press
Taking the crime out of sex work

New Zealand was the first country in the world to decriminalise all sectors of sex work. This book provides an in-depth look at New Zealand's experience of decriminalisation. It provides first-hand views and experiences of this policy from the point of view of those involved in the sex industry, as well as people involved in developing, implementing, researching and reviewing the policies. Presenting an example of radical legal reform in an area of current policy debate it will be of interest to academics, researchers and postgraduates as well as policy makers and activists.

'This volume is a very well presented argument in favour of the decriminalisation of sex work, and shows that it benefits those who have the most to lose...Abel, Fitzgerald and Healy's study is a must-read for those wanting to really improve the working conditions of sex workers.' - BEHEMOTH A Journal on Civilisation (Rebecca Pates)

"This superb collection speaks to the international community as it truly is a one-stop guide to the politics and policies of prostitution in New Zealand, which demonstrates how to regulate sex work without moral judgement." Teela Sanders, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Leeds, UK

"A major contribution to our understanding of prostitution when it is decriminalised and regulated by the government. The authors offer a path-breaking analysis of the New Zealand experience, and show that decriminalisation can be a superior alternative to the common policy of criminalisation." Ronald Weitzer, Professor of Sociology, George Washington University, USA

Gillian Abel is a senior public health researcher and lecturer at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She has research expertise in the areas of public health and sex work. 

Lisa Fitzgerald is a public health sociologist and social science lecturer in the School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia.

Catherine Healy is a founding member of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective, and is currently the National Coordinator. 

Aline Taylor comes from a background in anthropology, with a particular interest in researching issues on development, sport and gender.

Introduction ~ Gillian Abel and Lisa Fitzgerald; Part one: Lead up to the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act (2003): Of whalers, diggers and 'soiled doves: a history of the sex industry in New Zealand ~ Jan Jordan; History of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective ~ Catherine Healy, Calum Bennachie and Anna Reed; Lobbying for decriminalisation ~ Tim Barnett, Catherine Healy, Anna Reed and Calum Bennachie; The Prostitution Reform Act ~ Gillian Abel, Catherine Healy, Calum Bennachie and Anna Reed; Several sides to this story: feminist views of prostitution reform ~ Alison Laurie; Part two: Implementation and impact of the Prostitution Reform Act (2003): the first five years: Review of the PRA ~ Paul Fitzharris with Aline Taylor; Brothel operators' and support agencies' experiences of decriminalisation ~ Elaine Mossman; The (continuing) regulation of prostitution by local authorities ~ Dean Knight; CSoM study methodology and methods ~ Gillian Abel, Lisa Fitzgerald and Cheryl Brunton; Becoming inspectors of brothels: public health authorities' experience of implementing the PRA ~ Cheryl Brunton; The media and the PRA ~ Lisa Fitzgerald and Gillian Abel; Risk and risk management in sex work post PRA: a public health perspective ~ Gillian Abel and Lisa Fitzgerald; Decriminalisation and stigma ~ Gillian Abel and Lisa Fitzgerald;Conclusion ~ Gillian Abel and Lisa Fitzgerald.