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Prostitution on the rise in Ireland

The number of women here working in the sex industry has increased by 4 per cent, according to an organisation that supports the victims of prostitution.

Sex sells - Ruhama says prostitution is violence against women which violates their human rights.
Sex sells - Ruhama says prostitution is violence against women which violates their human rights.
Image: Tuppus via Flickr

PROSTITUTION IN IRELAND is on the rise, according to Ruhama’s annual report for 2010.

The Irish organisation, set up to support the victims of prostitution, says 204 women sought their help last year, an increase of 4 per cent on 2009.

Additionally, up to a quarter of those working in the sex industry are new to it, and there’s been a significant increase in the number of women prostituting themselves on the street.

Ruhama says the number of new victims of trafficking they met last year was comparable with 2009; the organisation made its first contact with a woman who was a victim of sex trafficking in 2000.

Street Prostitution

Elsewhere, there was a 9 per cent increase in the number of women accessing their street outreach service.

The street service operates from a van, which visits red-light districts at night, providing hot drinks, and a safe environment for sex workers.


Women supported by Ruhama in 2010 came from 31 different countries.

Sarah Benson, CEO, Ruhama said “This truly exemplifies the global nature of prostitution and trafficking.”

The report also states that victims of trafficking are now found, not just in Irish towns and cities, but also in smaller rural settings.

Sarah Benson says most women who work in prostitution are “vulnerable migrant women or marginalised Irish nationals, who experience economic difficulties especially debt. Some have addiction or childhood abuse issues”.

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Ruhama describes the reality of prostitution as ‘having to be available to be penetrated by strangers repeatedly on a daily basis.’

The organisation maintains that the sex trade is a multi million euro industry in Ireland, and is calling on the government to implement new legislation criminalising those who buy sex services.


Ruhama says the nature of prostitution in Ireland has changed in the past ten years.

According to the NGO, women used to turn to prostitution to fix occasional financial difficulties and because they didn’t see themselves as employable, but now, 95 per cent of street prostitutes are drug users; increasingly they are homeless; and the numbers of very young women involved in prostitution is on the rise.

Read more about calls for the criminalisation of sex service users on>

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