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'This Christmas Day there will be women in brothels around the country'

Prostitution charity Ruhama found an increase in the women accessing its services last year.

A still from the RTÉ documentary broadcast last month
A still from the RTÉ documentary broadcast last month
Image: RTE Investigation Unit

LAST YEAR HUNDREDS of women came forward to report the exploitation and abuse they received as a result of the sex trade in Ireland.

Ruhama, a charity that supports the victims of prostitution, has published a new report on the extent of the situation.

Speaking about it, the group’s CEO Sarah Benson said:

“We should all consider the fact that this Christmas Day while most of us settle down to a meal with loved ones, many women will be in brothels around the country, far from family and friends.”

In 2014 it provided support to 304 women from 37 different nationalities, 88 of whom were victims of sex trafficking.

In the report a clear trend for sex work taking place in brothels – rather than out on the street – has emerged.

What did the report find?

Over the past year Ruhama gave street outreach support to 76 women, with staff and volunteers spending more than 1,000 on the streets over 143 nights.

More than 1,000 face-to-face meetings took place, with this being a 37% increase on the number from the previous year.

The service also worked to establish phone and text contact with those working in prostitution, offering them ongoing support.

prostitution - 1 Source: Ruhama

How bad is the problem?

Last month an investigation by RTÉ took a look into the gangs that were operating around the country.

It found that women were being moved around brothels all over the country, and that prices in the sex trade had fallen dramatically in recent times.

Over the course of the programme women spoke about being trafficked to Ireland and then having to work in prostitution to pay back the cost of travel.

Ruhama is calling for a boost in the amount of resources available for tackling problems attached to prostitution and sex trafficking.

It argues that this could be done through greater funding of Garda National Protective Service Bureau – the section of the gardaí with a special focus in this area.

It has also called for a strengthening of legislation in relation to prostitution, giving full backing to the Sexual Offences Bill 2015. 

The Bill is set to go to the floor of the Seanad this Friday.

Read: Man charged with attempted murder after London Tube knife attack

Also: ‘Prostitution happens a lot, but what can you do? You have to eat’

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