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Lawmakers told that prostitution is sexual violence and that domestic violence is a crime

Today’s report by the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence suggests changes to the way prostitution is legislated for.

Image: prostitution via shutterstock

THE IMMIGRANT COUNCIL of Ireland has today welcomed a report recognising prostitution as a form of sexual violence.

It is felt that this recommendation for a change to legislation would help those who fall victim to human trafficking.

The report, released today by the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence, recommends adopting the ‘Swedish Approach’ to combat prostitution.

This would involve criminalising the purchase of sexual services while decriminalising and providing support for those who sell sexual services.

The committee described itself as, “concerned to learn that many vulnerable people have become involved in the sex industry and not as a matter of free choice.”

Violence against the individual 

It went on to state that its focus was on preventing violence against the person and that there was a concern with incidents where buyers of sexual services carry out physical violence against those working in the sex industry.

It was also said that the economic and social factors are associated with people working in prostitution should also be examined, although in a way that does not criminalise or stigmatise.

The Council also welcomed recommendations in the report that would assist those trapped in abusive relationships due to fear of deportation.

Response 

Speaking about the Committee’s findings, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Denise Charlton, said:

By identifying prostitution as sexual violence the Committee has again made clear that it is time for laws which will curb abuse, exploitation and trafficking. The members have reiterated that the best way to do this is to introduce laws which will target the buyers of sex.

The Council expressed hope that the recommendation would be included by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald in future laws on prostitution.

Domestic violence 

Today’s report also stated that domestic violence should be treated more seriously. The body recommended that it should be a crime in itself and that the definition of what constitutes domestic violence should be widened.

In the report the group suggested that Minister Fitzgerald introduce measures that would see the Garda taking statements at the time a domestic violence incident is reported, which if the victim permits could include photographs and an immediate medical assessment.

Read: Should domestic violence be treated more seriously than public assault?

Also: Asylum working group criticised for including only one (former) asylum-seeker

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