I fervently wish we could see a full video of Georgina Beyer's speech, that got the New Zealand Prostitution Reform Act of 2003 through its Parliament. New Zealand now has some of the most liberal sex workers' laws in the world; I do not know how they play out in practice, but it seems that they could be enforced well. Georgina Beyer was a member of Parliament at the time, and unfortunately, I can't find a transcript of the whole speech she gave, which started: "Madam Speaker, I shall take the liberty of assuming that I am the only member of this House with first-hand knowledge of the sex industry."

I found more pieces of her speech, which was passionate by all accounts. Here's one:

"I support this bill for all the prostitutes I have known who died before the age of 20 because of a society who in its hypocrisy would not allow them the chance to have their own protection," Ms Beyer said. "I plead with you in this House who are wavering right up to the wire. This is our one chance in 20 years – please, I beg of you to consider the side I'm on. Please think of the people who may be spared some of the hideous way that society treats us."


"This bill provides people like me at that time with some form of redress for the brutalisation that may happen in a situation when you are with a client and you have a knife pulled on you ... It would have been nice to have known instead of having to deal out the justice myself afterwards to that person, I may have been able to approach the authorities, the police in this case and say "I was raped! And yes, I'm a prostitute! And no, it was not right that I should've been raped, because I said no!".

That last, you can see in part of the video here.

Oh, and one more thing:

What really pisses me off is to hear someone's speech in Parliament labeled "emotional" in a context like this, as if to belittle the value of her words. Because really, if you'd been a sex worker for several years, been raped at knifepoint once, and been gang-raped and beaten another time, and you knew that the chances this would happen to any other sex worker were high, would there really be much excuse for you not to be "emotional"? That bill passed by one vote. Assign the credit how you will, it was good that sex workers should have had a genuine representative at a time when it mattered, who could confront politicians directly with their pain. The anger matters.



August 2013

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