A GROUP of 56 charities seeking to tackle prostitution and human trafficking in Ireland has submitted a report to the Oireachtas calling for a legal change making it illegal to pay for sex.
The ‘Turn Off the Red Light’ group, a coalition of charities representing various vulnerable groups, says Ireland should follow the lead of Sweden by prohibiting any payment for sex, while simultaneously decriminalising the sale of sex.
The coalition argues that tackling the demand for sex, instead of its illicit sale, is the most appropriate way for tackling the sex industry.
“A diminished demand for purchase of sex, leading to a diminished trade, would support An Garda Síochána in prioritising their limited resources to effectively target persistent criminality,” the group said.
It also argues that the current legal prohibition on the sale of sex has allowed a sex industry to thrive across Ireland, and claims that 1,000 women are offered for sex every day on Ireland through the internet alone.
“We also recommend that the change in legislation would be complimented by enhanced and sustained support services for people in prostitution who wish to exit,” it says.
The submission – which has now been sent to the Oireachtas all-party committee on Justice, Equality and Defence – claims to outline how the proposed change would make it more difficult for pimps and traffickers to stop exploiting women.
It also argues that the changes would help the 90 per cent of prostitutes who wish to exit the industry, but who feel unable to do so.
The submission is part of a consultation launched by justice minister Alan Shatter earlier this year.
Earlier this week a Northern Irish MLA opened a public consultation on a plan to make a similar legal change, which would outlaw payment for sexual acts in that jurisdiction.
Currently in both Ireland and the UK it is legal to pay for sex, but illegal to run a brothel or to actively solicit commercial sex.