Last month, National Radio’s Jim Mora hosted a panel discussion about prostitution in Christchurch.
As usual with Mora’s show, this involves a bunch of yuppies pontificating about the issues of the day. For this show though, Mora introduced Debbie Baker from ‘Street Reach’ as an advocate for women working in the sex industry.
Oddly enough for an advocate, the very first sentence Ms Baker said started “now that prostitution is decriminalized, unfortunately …” This rang alarm bells, as surely anyone who advocates for sex workers would be in favour of this change in their legal status. Ms Baker went on in the same vein, continuously referring to these women as girls, and even went so far as to agree with other panelists that laws arresting street workers could help.
It was clear from her contribution, that Ms Baker is not an advocate for these women.
A quick background check found that she in fact belongs to a religious organisation that is morally opposed to prostitution.
Ms Bakers outfit ‘Street Reach’ is also sponsored by lifenz.org, an fundamentalist Christian organisation that wants “to see God’s church win back the right to influence their city and nation for the cause of Christ”.
Ms Baker herself voted against prostitution being decriminalized.
It is completely inappropriate for Radio NZ to host Ms Baker as an advocate for prostitutes, giving listeners the impression that she advocates for these workers, when in fact the opposite is true, and her own organisation’s religious ideology is what was really being presented.
I understand that she may have previously had a position on radio NZ under this guise as well.
The legitimate voice for sex workers in this country – men, women, and transgender – is the Prostitutes Collective.
The Prostitutes Collective acknowledge that Ms Baker serves food on the street to workers, and provides some practical support. However she is not an advocate, nor is she ideologically suitable to be presented as one.
Why would Radio NZ have allowed Ms Baker to take this role, rather than get a legitimate advocate from NZPC?