VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN / October 2004
2001, Gilles Poumerol, WHO’s Southeast Asian advisor in sexu- ally transmitted infections, promoted the decriminalization of prostitution in Asia (Deutsche Press-Agentur, 2001).
Unfortunately, names cannot be trusted to tell the whole story. It is necessary to ask hard questions about who funds each group and how funds are used; about whether and what alternatives to prostitution are advocated; and whether the organization has any goal other than sexually transmitted disease (STD)/HIV preven- tion. Organizations must be asked what they know about vio- lence in prostitution, whether they view prostitution as sex work, and about housing options and job training because these are what women tell us that they need most to escape prostitution (Farley et al., 2003).
According to advocates of legalization or decriminalization of prostitution, the primary harm of prostitution is social stigma against prostitution. Those on all sides of the debate agree that women in prostitution are stigmatized. Socially invisible as full human beings, those in prostitution often internalize toxic public and private contempt directed against them.
Some have suggested that legalization or decriminalization would remove this social prejudice against women in prostitu- tion. Yet the shame of those in prostitution remains after legaliza- tion or decriminalization. The ways in which johns are legally and socially protected and their lack of accountability are also unchanged, regardless of prostitution’s legal status.
No one wants the business of prostitution operating in his or her community. Thus, zoning of the physical locations of sex busi- nesses is often a sine qua non of legalization or decriminalization. Political pundits were certain that the NZ law would not have passed without a last-minute amendment that enabled local juris- dictions to zone prostitution into the neighborhoods of those who could least afford the legal battle to keep it away from their homes. Since passage of the NZ law, conflict has arisen regarding the zoning of prostitution. Pimps often rent homes in suburban areas for the purpose of prostitution and trafficking. Homeown- ers, on the other hand, want prostitution zoned out of the suburbs and into city centers in Auckland and in the more rural Tauranga District (MacBrayne, 2003; New Zealand Herald, 2003).
The regulation of prostitution by zoning is a physical manifestation of the same social/psychological stigma that de-