New Zealand Law Society - Migrants working unlawfully in sex industry

Migrants working unlawfully in sex industry

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Immigration New Zealand says it has found a number of migrants working unlawfully in the sex industry, but no evidence of exploitation.

The agency says INZ Compliance Officers visited 57 brothels across Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin. It says this was a proactive approach to better understand issues within the sex industry as part of wider work on exploitation.

Operational activity targeted small owner-operated brothels as part of this programme of work, not commercial brothels or massage parlours.

The Prostitution Reform Act 2003 states that only New Zealand citizens and residents can legally work in the sex industry.

"When engaging proactively with small owner-operated brothel employers and workers, INZ found people on temporary visas working unlawfully," it says.

"Sixty-six migrant sex workers were identified - 36 on visitor visas, two on student visas and the remainder held resident visas.  All of the sex workers identified except for one were Chinese nationals. There was no evidence they were being exploited."

“Our compliance officers will use this information to inform future operational activity,” says INZ Compliance and Border Operations assistant general manager Peter Devoy.

“The information gathered helps us to investigate pathways of the migrant sex workers found to be in breach of their visas. It enables the INZ Border Operations to improve the identification and management of migrant sex workers attempting to cross the border.”

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