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"Women sell sex because they have to," says new campaign

The Ruhama agency has launched a new multimedia campaign which it says “contradicts the glamorous veneer and images used to advertise and normalise prostitution”.

A NEW CAMPAIGN on prostitution says that ‘Women sell sex because they have to, not because they want to’.

The national multimedia campaign is by Ruhama to raise awareness about prostitution.

Ruhama says the stark and explicit poster image “depicts the reductive nature of the sex trade” and the silhouette of a woman’s body “represents women who may be any age, ethnicity, nationality but whose worth in prostitution is placed solely on the commercialisation of their bodies for sex”.

Sarah Benson, CEO, Ruhama said:

This poster contradicts the glamorous veneer and images used to advertise and normalise prostitution. When you peel back the layers it is no more than the transaction of money to access another person’s body for sex. Who the person in prostitution really is becomes irrelevant in this interaction. The buyer’s desires and experience is what is prioritised.

Benson added that: “Prostitution is a growing issue in Irish society, yet, it is rarely discussed with any real depth, we hope this controversial campaign will create discussion and confront society with the reality for women in the sex trade.”

We chose the slogan ‘Women sell sex because they have to, not because they want to’ to dispel the myth that prostitution is a viable career choice for women, when in fact it is much more about a survival option.

The campaign is supported by Susan Loughnane of RTE drama Love/Hate, who said:

I have decided to support this campaign because I firmly believe that women in Ireland and all around the world are being abused within the sex trade. We must do everything possible to protect and assist women who are trapped within the sex trade. We must also challenge the belief that this is just about sex. It is not. It is about abuse and lack of choice for those prostituted.

According to Sarah Benson, the reason many people don’t engage with the issue of prostitution “is because they find it difficult to associate with it”. She said she hoped the scenario of a mother and daughter in the radio advertisement “will help people to empathize with the issue because in the end we are talking about somebody’s daughters, and indeed mothers who are affected”.

Ruhama provides a unique front line service to women affected by prostitution and sex trafficking and Benson said its approach “is holistic and completely non-judgemental”. “Ruhama aims to create options which empower women to make real choices, through a range of services including: one to one support, education, counselling, personal development, and support to access residency and housing.”

Cutbacks in statutory funding for Ruhama in recent years “is having a devastating effect and curtailing its services”, added Benson. She concluded that Ruhama requires “even more intensive fundraising to continue providing support to women and girls who are literally on the margins”.

Read: Prostitution programme ‘showed the appalling abuse of women’ – Taoiseach>

Read: RTÉ praised for ‘hard-hitting’ programme on prostitution>

Read: Law banning purchase of sex ‘would reduce sex trafficking and prostitution’>

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