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Dublin: 18 °C Sunday 31 May, 2020

Cross-border crackdown on 'sleazy' brothels welcomed

But the Immigrant Council of Ireland has warned that a legal loophole remains.

Turn Off the Red Light have called for a ban on the commercial sex trade
Turn Off the Red Light have called for a ban on the commercial sex trade
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE UNPRECEDENTED CROSS-BORDER operation against brothels operating across the country has been welcomed be the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

However, the group which offers support to victims of sex trafficking and prostitution warned that complete law reform is still needed to protect the women involved.

Denise Charlton, chief executive officer of the Immigrant Council, said that the Garda and PSNI operations in the past 24 hours should help women who have been trapped in a “life of threats, violence and abuse”.

“The efforts of the Gardaí and the PSNI in helping women who have been trafficked into Ireland by criminal gangs to be trapped into a life in brothels are very welcome and organisations such as ourselves stand ready to help any victims rescued during this operation.”

She added that the organisation awaits full details of the operation and the number of prosecutions to follow. Over 100 properties were searched in the Republic yesterday and three people were arrested. Documents, cash, computers and mobile phones were also seized by the more than 200 gardaí involved. In Northern Ireland, five people were arrested after 20 addresses were raided. Three suspected victims of human trafficking were also located by the PSNI.

Charlton said the size of the operation – which covered almost every county – shows how those behind “this sleazy trade have used a legal loophole” to reach every corner of the country.

The Immigrant Council is a member of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign which has called on the Government make it illegal to pay for sex. According to the coalition of more than 50 organisations, it is “this discrepancy in Irish law which has allowed the brothels to flourish”.

An opposition group, entitled Turn off the Blue Light, claim that criminalising sex would just drive the industry deeper underground, endangering those who choose to earn money as independent sex workers.

Earlier: Over 100 properties searched in joint Garda and PSNI anti-prostitution operation>

Read: RTÉ airs organised prostitution investigation originally meant for ‘Prime Time Investigates’>

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