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New law means electronic tagging for some sex offenders

There has been a wide welcome for new offences against child grooming and buying sex.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

JUSTICE MINISTER FRANCES Fitzgerald has today announced a wide-ranging bill that would punish online child grooming and criminalise buying sex.

The Sexual Offences Bill 2014, which is expected to pass into law easily, has been welcomed by a range of groups including the Rape Crisis Network and Ruhama.

Here are some of the main points in the bill:

Child grooming – new offences:

- Paying for the purpose of sexually exploiting a child
- Invitation to sexual touching
- Sexual activity in the presence of a child
- Causing a child to watch sexual activity
- Using the internet and mobile phones to facilitate sexual exploitation of a child
- All offences punishable by fine and 10-14 year jail term

Announcing this section, Minister Fitzgerald said “these heavy sanctions reflect the seriousness of these crimes and reaffirm our societal determination to punish those who exploit innocent children.”

Child pornography – new offences:

- Recruiting or arranging for a child to take part in a “pornographic performance”
- Organising child prostitution or the production of child pornography
- Strengthening of existing offences against distributing and possessing child pornography.

Teenager using mobile phone stock File photo of a teenage girl using a mobile phone. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sex offenders – new offences:

- In sentencing a convicted sex offender, a judge can now ban them from working with children and vulnerable persons
- Sex offenders must now check in with Gardaí every three days, not every seven,
- If Gardaí request it, offenders must provide fingerprints, photographs, etc…
- Enhanced supervision of high-risk offenders, including electronic monitoring (tagging) for some sex offenders

Age of consent stays at 17

Sex work (prostitution) – new offences:

- Ban on purchasing sexual services
- More serious offence of buying sex from a trafficked person
- Sex workers will not be subject to an offence

The Rape Crisis Network has hailed the bill as a “one of the most important advances in the legal framework around sexual violence crimes in recent years.”

Migrant rights group Doras Luimní has specifically welcomed the new law against buying sex and child grooming, calling it a “milestone” against human trafficking and forced prostitution.

Confirmed: It’s going to be illegal to purchase the services of a sex worker>

Over 300 women affected by trafficking and prostitution needed help last year>

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