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Commentary: New Zealand’s full decriminalisation means police and sex workers collaborate to try to reduce violence

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2666 (Published 20 June 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2666
  1. Catherine Healy, national coordinator
  1. New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective, Wellington, New Zealand

I was hired as a receptionist in a massage parlour in 1987 in Wellington, New Zealand, naively believing massage was the nature of the work. Soon after I became a masseuse, as sex workers were called to avoid associations with the laws prohibiting sex work (or prostitution as it was known), and related activities, such as brothel keeping, living on the earnings, procuring, and soliciting.

Tips on working safely were whispered to the new masseuses as they started. The helpful advice I received was, “Don’t forget to massage his feet, and you might need this,” as I was given a condom. The police would turn up periodically …

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