BBC News

New Zealand sex worker given six-figure sum in sexual harassment case

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image captionThe case is being viewed as an important benchmark for sex workers' rights

A New Zealand sex worker will receive a six-figure payout after filing a sexual harassment case against a business owner.

The sum is part of a settlement to compensate the woman for "emotional harm and lost earnings", said the human rights body that represented her.

The case served as a reminder that all workers have the right to freedom from sexual harassment at work, it added.

New Zealand passed a law decriminalising sex work in 2003.

The details of the proceedings, including the identities of those involved, is confidential.

But the settlement announced on Monday was viewed as an important milestone for sex workers' rights.

"It's great to see a settlement of this type has been awarded in the context of sex work to a sex worker," Dame Catherine Healy, national coordinator of the New Zealand Sex Workers Collective, told the BBC.

"It takes courage to stand up in the workplace, any workplace," she added, saying it was a "wake-up call" for businesses.

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Healy was at the forefront of a long campaign to decriminalise sex work in New Zealand, arguing that it would make the profession safer.

Her collective helped draft the landmark Prostitution Reform Act. It was passed in 2003, allowing brothels to operate as legitimate business and granting sex workers full employment rights.

On Monday Michael Timmins, director of New Zealand's Office of Human Rights Proceedings, which represented the sex worker, said the settlement "serves as an important reminder to businesses across the country".

"All workers, regardless of the type of work they do, have the right to freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace. We encourage all business owners and employers to ensure that they understand and respect those rights," he said in a statement.

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