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Dublin: 6 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020

Sex workers concerned over 'indiscriminate nature' of brothel raids

Carrying out searches in “all known properties” and not just ones suspected of exploitation or trafficking is dangerous for independent sex workers, says SWAI.

PSNI Organised Crime Branch officers enter and search an apartment in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland during Operation Quest.
PSNI Organised Crime Branch officers enter and search an apartment in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland during Operation Quest.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

SEX WORKERS ALLIANCE Ireland has expressed concern over the cross-border operation which saw more than 120 properties raided in the past 48 hours.

The group, which promotes self-determination and human rights for sex workers, said there appeared to be no attempt to distinguish between voluntary or independent workers and those that are controlled by others.

Opposed to the criminalisation of the sex trade, SWAI said that such raids would lead sex workers to take greater risks with their safety in order to avoid detection. This could be particularly dangerous for migrants who are working in Ireland without permission, the group claimed.

The alliance acknowledged that there continues to be a need to investigate trafficking and other forms of exploitation but believes yesterday’s raids were carried out on “all known properties” – not just those suspected of such practices.

Sex workers in Ireland claim that the raids do little to help those in need but carry high costs for them. SWAI urged the PSNI and Gardaí to target their resources toward exploitation. It also called for the implementation of laws and policies to ensure sex workers do not need to fear arrest or deportation as a result of investigation like yesterday’s.

Earlier today, the Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomed the searches, arrests and rescues of suspected victims. In stark contrast to SWAI and the Turn off the Blue Light campaign, the council is a member of the umbrella group Turn off the Red Light which advocates for the criminalisation of the sex trade.

Earlier: Cross-border crackdown on ‘sleazy’ brothels welcomed>

Related: 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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