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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
prostitution via Shutterstock
nordic model

Sex workers 'fear for their safety' if clients are criminalised

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said she is “examining” legislation that would criminalise buying sex.

A NEW SURVEY released by Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice has revealed that 98% of sex workers are against criminalising the purchase of sex.

A new Bill will be discussed by the Assembly next week that could see the laws on prostitution changed to be more in line in the ‘Nordic model’.

This would make buying, rather than selling, sex illegal.

“Clause 6 of the Bill… if adopted, will change the existing law from criminalising the purchase of sex from a prostitute subjected to force, to criminalising the purchase of sexual services in any circumstances,” the North’s Justice Minister David Ford said, and expressed his disagreement with this.

However, Ford said that he agrees with most aspects of the Bill, put forward by MLA Lord Maurice Morrow.

The new laws are aimed at “ending the misery of human trafficking and modern day slavery”.

The new research, carried out by Queens University, also found that almost two-thirds of sex workers believe it would make them less safe, and 85% said it would not reduce sex trafficking.

Just 16% of those surveyed who pay for sex said it would make them stop.

“The report contains evidence to suggest that criminalising the purchase of sex, as a single clause in this Bill, may create further risk and hardship for those individuals, particularly women, involved in prostitution,” Ford said.

Speaking today, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said she is examining the Nordic model.

“Many of you will be aware of the Nordic approach to legislation concerning prostitution which focuses on the criminalisation of the purchase of sex,” she said.

I am examining very carefully the potential for legislative measures of this kind to support our efforts to reduce human trafficking.

“As well as seeking to reduce the number of people who seek the services of women in prostitution, such legislation can also have an important normative effect. It can send a message, that this is not an acceptable thing to do. Over time this can change attitudes, particularly of young people.”

The Sex Workers Association of Ireland (SWAI) said this evening that they are eager to speak with Minister Fitzgerald on the issue.

“It is essential that she meets with the people whose lives and livelihood are being discussed, as it must be made clear that we are very opposed to this proposed legislation,” a statement read.

Read: Lawmakers told that prostitution is sexual violence and that domestic violence is a crime >

More: Bill to fight child grooming introduced to prevent ‘Irish Rotherham’ >

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