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Sex worker sanctuary is Rosalie’s mission, and she needs help

Dec 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

RosaliefinalA FORMER SEX worker who has devoted her time to helping prostitutes quit the game, has asked Wellington City Council for funding.

A former sex worker dedicating her time to helping prostitutes quit the game has asked Wellington City Council for funding.

Rosalie Batchelor managed to leave the prostitution industry, and now helps women feeling trapped in the life to get out.

Rosalie spoke to the council’s community, sport and recreation committee in the hope of receiving extra funding for housing for her volunteer organisation, and salary support for a co-ordinator.

Her organisation, Rosalie’s Haven, was established this year and provides accommodation, food and clothing for female sex workers who wish to leave the industry.

“Rosalie’s Haven was set up to meet the needs of women by providing immediate emotional, social, career and spiritual support,” Rosalie says.

“The majority of funds for the organisation are generated from donations,” she says.

Rosalie told the council there is a critical need to help the “sheltered homeless” women.

This is the term used to describe women who couch surf, are in abusive relationships or exchanging sexual services for shelter.

“As of a 2007 report there were 377 sex workers in Wellington,” Rosalie says.

“Of these one in five were giving sexual favours in exchange for somewhere to live.

Thirty per cent of these workers didn’t know how to go about changing their lives,” she says.

The study found 75% of women involved in the sex industry have attempted suicide.

Rosalie says these women will not seek help because they are suspicious of outsiders and authorities, fear rejection and change.

“Sex Workers often fear admitting they have been harmed. They may have difficulty establishing control over their own lives. They fear that health care and other services will not help because they are in the sex industry,” Rosalie says.

Councillor Andy Foster says council and other agencies are doing a good proactive job in addressing the issue of the sheltered homeless.

“Council is also an excellent landlord for disadvantaged people. That said there will always be new challenges, new people with problems, and limits to what we can do,” Mr Foster says.

He says on face value Rosalie’s Haven is a very valuable service.

“When deciding to give salary support to organisations providing important social services Council has to weigh them up in terms of relative priority,” Foster says.

Rosalie’s Haven also helps women identify a suitable alternative career path.

“We are focussing on facilitating change for long term outcomes,” Rosalie says.

Councillor Helene Ritchie says these statistics would be even higher as many of the sex workers are “invisible”.

Councillor Ritchie says she was in favour of salary support for Rosalie’s Haven as homeless women are the most vulnerable people in our society.

“Women are often more vulnerable as they earn less through their lives,” Ritchie says.

Richard Maclean, Wellington City Council media advisor, says it will be March next year before the funding can be considered.

“We’ve told the people involved that the next funding round is not until next March. They’ll be able to formally make their case then.

“We advised them that we would want to see them make their application in the context of the homelessness programme that the Council is involved in, along with a range of established social service agencies,” Mr Maclean says.

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