Saturday, 21 February 2009

Words fail me

This awful article showcases just about everything that's wrong with the world. It describes a Police ban on officers accompanying immigration officials when they visit possibly illegal brothels. The ban follows the death of a brothel client during a 2007 raid.

The raid was being filmed for a reality TV show, and the client jumped to his death from a window to avoid being caught. I hate reality TV of this sort. At best, it's an exploitative freak show that mocks other people for our voyeuristic viewing pleasure. The fact that the Police allowed themselves to be involved in something so unethical reflects some pretty bad professional judgment. The legality of the raid is now being questioned.

Whatever we might feel about clients of prostitutes, most would surely agree that these men shouldn't be hounded to their deaths. And there's a very pragmatic reason why preserving privacy at brothels is important: if men fear being caught in the act at a brothel, they may go to street workers instead. As the deaths of Mellory Manning and others show, sex workers on the street are vulnerable to violence. We've got a societal responsibility to make sure sex workers' work conditions are safe - and encouraging the sex industry onto anonymous, unsupervised streets doesn't achieve that.

But the crowning 'glory' of this article would have to be the comment of former immigration minister Tuariki Delamere, who said that although he supported any action to remove people not allowed to be in the country, the Police had to follow the law. The sex workers which immigration officials were investigating during this disastrous raid were suspected human trafficking victims. It takes a stunning bit of pig-headedness to see flouted immigration laws, not the racialised degradation and enslavement of women, as the key injustice in this situation.

6 comments:

David said...

The filming of reality tv has no place in law enforcement. The filming should be for evidence only not voyeristic entertainment. Praise the lord DVD's and plasma tv's!

Lucy said...

This awful article showcases just about everything that's wrong with the world. It describes a Police ban on officers accompanying immigration officials when they visit possibly illegal brothels. The ban follows the death of a brothel client during a 2007 raid.

I actually found it quite hopeful on two counts: firstly, the police are very frank about the fact that they shouldn't have done it (where Immigration are not!), and secondly, the reason the police were there in the first place was in case they *did* find women who were victims of trafficking, which means that someone was acknowledging the problem. Of course, the whole situation is horrifying, but at least the police themselves seem to have a somewhat realistic grasp of the issues.

Anna said...

I see your point, Lucy, but I'm alarmed that the Police didn't ascertain whether the raid was legal before doing it. If we can't rely on the Police to know the law and abide by it, then dear oh dear...

Lucy said...

I see your point, Lucy, but I'm alarmed that the Police didn't ascertain whether the raid was legal before doing it. If we can't rely on the Police to know the law and abide by it, then dear oh dear...

Oh, yeah, there's no question they fucked up there big time, which is very scary. One really has to wonder how far up the chain permission went - was this a systematic failure to ascertain legality, or was it at a station or individual level? None of these are *good*, but the former would be the worst.

Anna said...

I wonder if it was in any way related to the public image stuff the Police have been trying to do recently? I've noted that they've tried (and I think succeeded) to lift their game in some areas - the public comments they've made, particularly around sexual violence and the shooting death of that poor young guy on the Auckland motorway - have been way more sensitive than some I've heard in the past?

So I'm wondering if the raid thing was a misguided attempt to try to use the media to restore public confidence in the Police, and it just went utterly and horribly wrong? You'd hope that someone down the food chain made the decision - it would a real worry if a senior person had made that sort of lapse of judgment. It's a situation where they presumably didn't consult with the Prostitutes' Collective, but really should have. Just a tragedy all round, really.

Julie said...

Karl Du Fresne has written about this in his column today.