This is a long article, published this year, about street-based prostitution in New Zealand that is worth reading in full:
No little girl dreams of this dressing room. Anna hunches on the concrete beam scratching around in her bag for her high heel boots.
The ground is a mat of shingle and damp dirt.
Even the weeds have given up trying to grow in this dank corner of Christchurch’s red light district. A digger tyre serves as Anna’s vanity table. On it rests a sparkly card holder full of condoms.
It is bitter July night in Christchurch – the kind of cold that eats through each layer of clothing. But instead of putting clothes on, Anna is taking them off.
She is a prostitute on Manchester St.
She shivers, but it is barely noticeable from her hands that are shaking, because Anna, 25, is dependent on alcohol.
“We all put on a show on how we can do this,” she says. “But yeah, it’s hard.”
Anna is eloquent, something she attributes to her “posh” state school background.
At 16, she abandoned school, instead working on and off on the street. “When I last worked it would have been four or five years ago. The amount of girls is, like, triple now. It’s because of housing,” she says.
This time around she has been out here for three months.
It is 6.04pm. Time to walk to her spot outside Vision College.
Ever since the heels went on, she is harder, swaggering and defiant.
She “hates herself” for being back out here.
“I’m darker. A lot harder, like putting up a wall. I have more of a stone for a heart than a heart, I guess,” she says flinching as she looks away, her fingers itching for a cigarette that isn’t there. She stares down the street. Over the next year Anna will attempt to leave Manchester St twice.
Since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, working girls have had their patch reduced from about two kilometres, down to 360 metres between Bealey Ave and Salisbury St. Road works have forced “Peterborough” girls down with those who work the patch closer to Bealey Ave.
Elly, Mel and Leigh work down from Anna, sometimes at the bus stop and sometimes in front of a church.
Tonight they are lined up on a low concrete fence, like children waiting to get their photo taken, feet kicking the pavement.
Cars drive past slowly, some who will drive up and down all night without purchasing.
Others ask for prices because they don’t “have the guts” or get enough of a thrill off just asking, says Leigh.
Girls disappear behind bushes. There are no toilet facilities for the girls. The nearest are Cathedral Square but are locked at night.
Leigh, Mel and Elly live in an abandoned house.
Anna lives about 40 minutes walking distance away from the street, on an empty section, in a tent. The sneakers in her bag are for the walk home.
Along with this group there are between three and eight more workers on the street most nights.
The girls are glum tonight. It’s winter and very cold. Business is slow.
“God we are so lazy. Look at us we aren’t even trying, c’mon,” says Leigh, trying to buoy the girls.
Anna is further down the street, the clonk . . . clonk . . . clonk of her heels echoing on the deserted street.
A car pulls up slowly.
The driver becomes the subject of intense scrutiny by the three young women.
“Why isn’t Anna going up to him?” asks Mel.
Anna, in two inch heels, technically has the “job”. The car pulled up near her.
But she is smoking; gazing down Manchester St, walking the same tired patch.
The three women eye up the car.
Out here a man equals money.
“Well, someone has to do him,” points out Leigh, lighting up a cigarette.
Mel stubbs out hers and strides down to the car, slinging her bag over a shoulder.
She is back in a couple of minutes, grinning.
“He was on the phone talking to his wife,” she says laughing.
“You probably gave that poor man a heart-attack,” scolds Leigh.
The girls clutch at each others shoulders laughing helplessly.
The lack of jobs plus the lack of synthetic cannabis in their pockets soon subdues them.
“I am not leaving until I do crack it, even if it’s just a $40 or $60. Just for sessions in the morning,” says Elly.
She runs up to a pole and swings around it. She doesn’t laugh.
Elly wanted to be a vet when she was a little girl.
Her hand gently strokes the soft golden hair of a puppy that lies licking her hand.
It is early September. She and Leigh have shifted out to the abandoned section with Anna. Elly was sick of her seeing her money “go up in smoke” – used to buy synthetic cannabis for everyone at the house.
Elly knew she wasn’t equipped to be a vet.
“I didn’t want to watch animals die or be in pain. Then I wanted to be a doctor but I couldn’t handle someone dying on me.” Elly knows what it is like to be a “pet”.
She “was sold” at age eight to an older man at the end of the street.
Anna has had three jobs this week. All those hours spent walking the pavement, smoking incessantly, has amounted to less than $120.
After five months she has become “old meat”.
It was the same when she was younger. A lot of jobs in the beginning, then trouble eking an income from then on in.
As a 16 year old she started because her friends did it to get rent money.
Her reasoning was since she had been raped by her brother from age nine she “may as well get paid for it”. She told her school counsellor at 15. Her mum sat in the counsellor’s office heaving with sobs. Then she hissed at Anna: “I’m going to lose my son because of you.” Anna’s voice trails off.
“I couldn’t do it any more, so I left,” she says very quietly. Her hand itches for a damned cigarette by her side.
A girl is weaving between the pavement and the road, a flowing dress hitched up. Anna knows her.
She is on morphine, quite common out here.
Some workers do a job, shoot up then once it wears off head back out to do another job.
The girl is friendly and nice.
She asks if Bridget has a cigarette to spare, before she continues weaving down the footpath looking for cigarette butts.
She stops suddenly and yells : “This f****** street!”
It is March. Elly no longer has her golden puppy.
She gave it up. She cannot look after it.
Elly left the abandoned section and has been arrested three times for being in vacant buildings.
It is hard to talk to her at the moment. She has been living in a world created by synthetic cannabis, her eyes seemingly permanently glazed.
From 2014, Sex workers say Mob ‘owned streets’:
Mauha Huatahi Fawcett, 26, is defending himself in the High Court in Christchurch, where he faces a charge of murdering Manning, 27, on or about December 18, 2008. Her partly naked body was found in the Avon River on December 19, 2008.
Earlier today the court heard that the Mongrel Mob presence on Manchester St increased dramatically about two months before prostitute Manning died.
In evidence read to the court, one sex worker said there was no trouble with gangs on the streets until a couple of months before Manning was killed.
“Suddenly the mob were all over the street, hitting up the girls for $20 a job.”
The woman said another street worker associated with the Mongrel Mob would drive around in a car with a mobster in the front seat.
“They would tell me they owned the streets, so I owed them money.”
The sex worker said a few nights after Manning was killed, the woman and the mobster pulled up in a white car while she was working on the street.
They tried to convince her to get in.
She thought if she complied, she would be raped and killed, so she arranged to meet them at another corner then ran away.
“I thought if I got in that car I would never be seen again.”
A statement from Kent Gorrie, Manning’s partner at the time of her death, has also been read to the court.
In it, Gorrie said Manning had worked on the streets since she was 14, and knew how to look after herself.
He said he used to be Manning’s minder and rejected the suggestion that they paid a ‘tax’ to the Mongrel Mob.
“We would never pay tax to anyone on the street.”
Manning had been raped previously and thrown out of moving cars.
She was one of the first to work as far down as Peterborough St and was “very territorial about her corner”, Gorrie said.
Manning was “choosy” about her clients and always used condoms with clients for all sex work.
She made other working girls angry because she would get more clients and money, because she was younger and prettier.
Gorrie said manning’s stepfather was a Mongrel Mob member when he was younger. She knew all the gangs.
“She would not get in a car with someone she did not like the look of,” he said.
“She would never get into a car with anyone from the Mongrel Mob for a job.”
Gorrie said that before Manning’s death, they were both on the methadone programme and hoped to have a baby.
Manning had also reconnected with her mother.
“We were going to straighten our lives out,” he said.
Opening for the Crown, prosecutor Pip Currie told the jury Manning was strangled, raped, stabbed and bashed at the Aotearoa Mongrel Mob’s “pad” in Galbraith Ave, Avonside.
Several people, including Fawcett, were involved in the killing and any of her wounds could have been fatal, Currie said.
Manning had two clients on the night of December 18 – neither of whom were suspects – and was last seen by members of the public on the corner on Manchester and Peterborough streets, her usual spot, about 10.40pm.
Known as “Muckdog” or “Little Muckdog”, Fawcett was a prospect for the Christchurch-based Mongrel Mob chapter, which wanted to “take over” Manchester St and tax the prostitutes $20 from each of their jobs.
Prospects, also known as “soldiers”, were expected to do various tasks for the gang, which could include making money or putting their hand up to crimes to prevent a patched gang member from being arrested, a police witness told the court.
Fawcett’s job was to watch over the street workers on Manchester St. Senior gang members had told him being patched gave you “licence to kill”, Currie said.
Prostitutes could be taxed using standover tactics, and failure to pay would result in a beating – usually by a gang prospect or associate rather than by a patched member, Detective Kelvin Holden told the court.
Fawcett gave conflicting accounts when interviewed by police between 2009 and 2012 including describing Manning’s murder as a “planned hit” by the Mongrel Mob and claims about Manning “owing money for drugs”.
Another mobster had told him that all the working girls had to pay them “rent”. Manning was identified while standing on Manchester St as the “girl who owed money”. When confronted by an associate, “she said she didn’t have the money but would try and get it”, Currie said.
From Sex Industry Kills, for New Zealand:
January 2002: name unknown, murder attempt, in Freeman’s Bay in central Auckland. woman survived, but she had been left for dead.
February 2 2002: Marlene „Ma“ Tania Kelly, 40, Auckland, Otahuhu, mother of six, stabbed to death in a parking lot „In the Shadows“ between Mason Ave and Station Rd., murdered by Kevin Thomas Helps, 37
December 15 2005: Anna Louise Wilson, 24, was found in the Avon River, murdered by Peter Stephen Waihape, 28
April 2005: Suzie Sutherland, 36, Christchurch, was found strangled in a vacant section in Peterborough Street
April 13 2005: Xiukun Feng, 54, also known as Nancy Peterson, Auckland, owned a massage parlour in Gt North Rd, her body was found one day later in her parked car in New Lynn carpark Rata St
2006 – 19 year old parlor worker assaulted during a booking while working at a prominent “high class” establishment in Wellington – (noted for it’s good security).
2006 – 29 year old WG violently assaulted in girls changing room by a patched gang member, despite the presence of ’security’.
2007 – 19 year old girl violently attacked while in a booking in a popular massage parlor in Auckland
2007 – Parlor worker threatened at knife point by a client while attending an out-call
2007 – Young WG violently assaulted at front desk by an irate client
2008 – Man attacks prostitute in Christchurch city. Attempts to abduct her
18 December 2008: Ngatai Lynette Manning (also known as Mallory Manning), 27, maori, was murdered in Christchurch http://tinyurl.com/kh93n24
April 17 2009: Nuttidar Vaikaew, „Sky“, 48, thai, Auckland, 1/26 Warwick Street, murdered by „on-and-off-boyfriend“ Gordon Hieatt, 48, after an argument about him having to leave the apartment for an appointment with one of her clients, he wanted her tos top working in the sex trade. He „just wanted her to shut up“ He slept next to her dead body in his bed for four weeks, prosecutor: “He did not love her. He did not even respect her. What he was interested in was sex”
2010 – today
June 29 2009: Carmen Thomas, 32, south-african, Auckland, Remuera, Ngapuhi Rd., murder used a child’s baseball bat as the murder weapon. Police found the body of the missing escort cut in pieces and buried in a box in the Waitakere Range, murdered by Brad Callaghan
15 March 2014: name unknown, 34, Auckland, suffered numerous physical injuries during the attack in the lonely expanse of Symonds St Cemetery, murder attempt
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