Sex worker sues for sexual harassment…and wins

Could it happen here? A New Zealand prostitute was awarded $25,000 in damages after being sexually harassed by her brothel-owner boss

Sex worker sues for sexual harassment…and wins
In a world-first case, a prostitute has won damages for sexual harassment by her boss, a brothel owner in New Zealand.

The local Human Rights Review Tribunal awarded the 22-year-old sex worker $25,000 for enduring three months of harassment from her older, male employer. The court records indicate that he consistently made inappropriate comments about the nature of her work, saying he could do what he liked with his employees. He also criticised her weight, saying “you should walk into work and not get driven”, and also tried to intimidate the worker to prevent her from being involved with the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective, a sex workers’ rights group.

The court found that “sex workers are as much entitled to protection from sexual harassment as those working in other occupations. The fact that a person is a sex worker is not a licence for sexual harassment, especially by the manager or employer at the brothel.”

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective national coordinator Catherine Healy told Fairfax News the decision showed New Zealand had become a world leader in sex workers' human rights after legalising prostitution in 2003.

"It's one up for decriminalisation, it's a significant ruling because it could never have happened when sex work was illegal. It indicates the massive change (the industry) has gone through," she said.

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