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'Most prostitution here is run by organised crime gangs': Irish service helped 92 victims of sex trafficking in 2016

Ruhama worked with 304 women of 37 nationalities last year.

Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama, condemned the organised gangs that run
Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama, condemned the organised gangs that run "the bulk of prostitution in Ireland".
Image: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

AN IRISH SERVICE supported 92 victims of sex trafficking last year, according to its annual report released today.

Ruhama, which says it is Ireland’s only dedicated national frontline service for women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking, gave support to 304 women of 37 nationalities over the year.

The 92 victims of sex trafficking were from four different continents, it said.

Of the 222 women that required intensive support from Ruhama’s casework service, most had been sexually exploited, be it in brothels, hotel rooms or apartments, the report said.

Ruhama’s mobile outreach van, which visits Dublin’s streets three or four times a week, had 63 women access its supports.

Crime gangs

“The bulk of prostitution in Ireland is run by organised crime gangs who profit from the sexual exploitation of women and girls, particularly in off-street locations,” Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama, said.

“These unscrupulous individuals make money from human misery – moving often vulnerable migrant women in a coordinated fashion from brothel to brothel across Ireland, with a view to satisfying local sex buyers’ demands.”

Since March, it has been illegal to purchase sex in Ireland, under the Sexual Offences Act 2017.

“It is now illegal to purchase sex in this country and the penalties for organising and profiting from prostitution have been increased. More needs to be done to ensure that these laws are properly enforced, in order to achieve the objective to minimise the inherent harm of a wholly exploitative trade,” said Benson.

Ruhama is calling for the government to resource An Garda Siochana’s national and regional protective services bureaus to tackle organised crime networks.

It is also calling for a public awareness campaign “to ensure that the people of Ireland know that this is now a country where no human being can be considered for sale”.

Read: ‘It wouldn’t happen in D4’: Locals plan to block streets ahead of U2 gig to protest ‘red light district’ >

Read: Stolen boys: Life after sexual slavery in Afghanistan>

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