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Men who pay for sex 'should be prosecuted'

Public health specialist calls for men who buy sex to be prosecuted – but an organisation representing sex workers in Ireland says this is not the best approach.

DOCTORS HAVE CALLED for men who pay for sex to be prosecuted.

An Health Service Executive public health specialist called Dr Fenton Howell said that a similar move in Sweden led to the level of prostitution being reduced, and human trafficking figures being lowered, the Irish Examiner reports.

He made the comments at the annual general meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) in Killarney, asking people to support Ruhama’s Turn Off the Red Light campaign.

Delegates at the conference said they agreed with his motion to support Ruhama.

Ruhama is an Irish non-governmental agency that works with women affected by prostitution.

It wants the government to introduce legislation that will criminalise the purchase of sex by buyers and decriminalise the selling of sex by prostituted people.

It is also said that legislation is not enough and the Government needs to provide sufficient resources to NGOs and other service providers to help those prostituted to exit and recover from the harmful effects of prostitution.

However, Sex Workers Alliance Ireland said that this legislation would “push sex work underground” and not stop sex work altogether.

On its website, it says:

We are working to get the voices of sex workers and advocates heard to at least debate this and look at the effects on the real people involved…We know this change in the law will put sex workers’ civil, human, safety and health rights at risk.

It also offers 33 reasons why making the purchase of sex illegal would not be a ‘solution’, and argues that the decriminalisation of prostitution “is a much more popular and sensible solution”.

Currently, it is illegal to solicit sex in a public place in Ireland but not illegal to buy sex.

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