Asian women are increasingly being lured with cash to offer their services in New Zealand's sex industry, a new investigation has revealed.
The women, mainly Malaysian, are recruited by agents who offer cash up front of up to 10,000 dollars plus air tickets to come to New Zealand.
Once they land, they are handed over to brothel owners, who confiscate their passports and force them to work to 'repay the loan'.
One woman had told another sex worker at the central Auckland club that she had been paid 5600 dollars to come from Malaysia, and had been made to work 16-hour shifts - from noon to 4am - with few escorted breaks on most days.
The club owner denied the allegations.
"She was afraid she would lose the passport and asked me to keep it for her as safekeeping," NZ Herald quoted the owner as saying in Mandarin.
She said she knew it was illegal for the woman to work as a prostitute, but insisted the brothel was breaking no laws, as sex workers were not employees, but self-employed independent contractors.
"For the purposes of the Immigration Act, employment includes any activity done for gain and reward.
"Employers have a responsibility to ensure that they do not aid and abet a person to breach the conditions of their permit," said Immigration New Zealand border security group manager Glenys Robinson.
Annah Pickering of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective said that they distribute a leaflet that contains information on the girls' rights, how much they should be earning as a sex worker, and details of the Prostitution Reform Act.
"No one can force you to have sex," says the leaflet.
"Sex workers in NZ normally receive $100 or more after any fees paid to the owner of the premises for providing sex once. You are doing important work, make the client pay!" it says.
The leaflet also asks sex workers to turn to the collective for help if they do not have access to their passport and money, or do not have freedom to shop or sightsee during time off.