Group says Rosary at alleged brothel in Limerick

Members of a religious group in Limerick have begun saying a decade of the Rosary several nights a week outside a suspected brothel in the city to “pray for the women” in prostitution.

The group — which does not wish to be identified — is inviting members of the public to join them in prayer on Upper William St, outside a premises where members believe Romanian women are being forced to work as prostitutes.

The group, along with up to 30 business owners, met with gardaí last year but, after seeing prostitutes return to the streets, has decided prayer might be one answer to the problem.

“We’re praying for the girls. A lot of them are poor, from Eastern Europe and have come here expecting jobs and a better life,” said one man, who regularly prays outside the premises.

“We’re not against the women per se — they are somebody’s children.

“It’s also not good for business here. We’ll continue it because of the power of the Rosary and the power of the prayer.”

Women praying with him often approach the sex workers to give them holy medals, he said.

While he said he has not seen the women in recent days, he does not believe “our prayers have been answered yet”.

The Rosary will continue on unspecified week nights at about 5.30pm and at the weekend at 8pm, he said.

Following a number of high-profile arrests, gardaí in Limerick City say they are continuing efforts to tackle prostitution in the city.

Operation Freewheel, which took place in late 2011, saw nearly 30 men detained and charged with soliciting or importuning for the purposes of prostitution. The majority pleaded guilty to the offence, made a donation of €470 to a nominated charity, and had their charges struck out.

EU meeting of civil society

Ruhama and Doras Luimní are two of a number of European non-governmental organisations which meet in Brussels today for the first gathering of a new EU civil society platform on human trafficking.

The platform has been set up as a key part of the EU anti-trafficking strategy 2012-2016 in an attempt to establish “effective measures to prevent and deter trafficking for sexual exploitation, is the context of the overall exploitative prostitution of women and girls from EU, or non-EU, third countries”. - Stephen Rogers

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