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Sex worker advocate retires after 28 years

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 31/05/2016 Cleo Fraser

Ms Reed herself was one of the driving forces behind the reforms and, along with others, helped former Labour MP Tim Barnett draft what later became the Prostitution Law Reform Act. © Getty Images Ms Reed herself was one of the driving forces behind the reforms and, along with others, helped former Labour MP Tim Barnett draft what later became the Prostitution Law Reform Act. A former sex worker who helped reform New Zealand's prostitution laws is retiring after spending almost three decades supporting those in the industry.

Anna Reed will finish up as head of the Christchurch branch of the Prostitutes' Collective (NZPC), a post she's held since the 1980s, on Thursday.

The 72-year-old says the introduction of the Prostitution Law Reform in 2003 was a pivotal moment for sex workers as they not only gained rights, but also respect.

"One thing that wasn't right about it (when I became a sex worker in the 1970s) was the governance ... and people were treated very badly," she told NZ Newswire.

Ms Reed herself was one of the driving forces behind the reforms and, along with others, helped former Labour MP Tim Barnett draft what later became the Prostitution Law Reform Act.

"The night it passed was the most euphoric in my life," she said.

"On the streets (sex workers) used to stand in the shadows and then they came out into the light."

Her boss, head of NZPC Catherine Healy, said Ms Reed's drive as well as her honest, straight-talking approach made her an incredible advocate for the voiceless.

Ms Reed said there were still challenges facing sex workers, especially around respect and safety.

Three sex workers have been killed in Christchurch in recent years and just last week a man was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Renee Duckmanton.

She was last seen in the city's red light district and police believe her sex work is connected to her death.

Ms Reed has been working with police to keep other workers safe since Ms Duckmanton's burnt body was found west of the city.

"I take it really personally each time because they're part of my family," she said.

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