Solving tensions in street-based sex work through community engagement

Gillian Abel

This presentation discusses a community engagement initiative which was successful in dealing with tensions between street-based sex workers and residents in a suburb in Christchurch. Public nuisance, offensive to the interests of the community, has frequently been used to justify regulatory action against street-based sex workers. But such measures drive a wedge between the community and the sex workers. It is considered to be more effective to engage with sex workers in a consultative approach to sorting out problems in the community than going down a top-down enforcement route. Engagement between all stakeholders involved can play an important role in bridging the gap and building relationships between community members and sex workers. It allows everyone’s voices to be heard and facilitates a greater understanding of each other so that solutions amenable to all can be found. The Christchurch case study provides a compelling testament to this approach.

Hamish Keown