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Buying sex should be a crime, selling it should not - Oireachtas committee

Recommendations that shift the onus on to people who pay for and organise prostitution are welcomed by prostitution support charity Ruhama.

Image: le calmar via Flickr/Creative Commons

PEOPLE WHO PAY for sex should face criminal charges but prostitutes should not, an Oireachtas committee has said.

In their ‘Report 0n the Review of the Legislation on Prostitution in Ireland’, the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality says that the purchase of sexual services, or any attempt to do so, should be an offence.

The report goes on to say that under their recomendations “no offence is committed by the person whose sexual services are sold”.

The report also recommends:

  • Increased penalties for sex traffickers
  • Harsher punishments for organising prostitution
  • A new offence for allowing a premises to be used for prostitution
  • An offence for grooming a child or vulnerable person
  • Similar punishments for visiting websites that advertise prostitution as those for visit child porn websites

The proposals were broadly welcomed by Ruhama, who support women affected by prostitution, and the Irish Immigrant Council.

In a joint statement the groups, who were founding members of the Turn Off The Red Light campaign, said that the they were “delighted”.

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“We have now reached a landmark stage in the efforts to put pimps and traffickers out of business.

While the recommendations of the Committee will need full consideration, we are delighted that the bulk of the testimony and submissions put forward by 68 groups which form the Turn Off the Red Light campaign has been accepted.

Sarah Benson, Chief Executive of Ruhama said that the recommendations represented a shift in thinking in Ireland.

“The recommendations of this report are a validation of the need to shift the focus of the law from those who are vulnerable and exploited in prostitution, who need support and not convictions – towards the sex buyers.

Criminalising those who fuel the demand for women and girls for their own sexual satisfaction, is the most effective way to tackle trafficking and exploitation of prostitution and we hope that this simple but important amendment to the law will be implemented swiftly.

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