Oireachtas committee to discuss prostitution legislation

Anti-prostitution advocates will today tell the Oireachtas Justice Committee why they want the buyers of sex to be targeted by new laws aimed at ending the exploitation, abuse, and trafficking of women and children in this country.

Various groups aligned to the Turn off the Red Light (TORL) campaign will make oral submissions to the TDs during 12 submissions to be heard today.

Before the summer, the Department of Justice prepared a discussion document which set a range of options from full criminalisation of all prostitution to legalisation of the adult sex trade.

The Oireachtas Justice Committee then sought written submissions from groups, both for and against criminalisation.

Now after receiving more than 1,000 submissions, the committee is to hear directly from the interest groups in oral presentations both today and on dates over the next two months.

In all there are 64 groups aligned to TORL and among those who will address the committee today are the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Ruhama, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, and the Irish Medical Organisation.

Ruhama has described the reform process as an opportunity for a full, national input into addressing the issue.

“Every day Ruhama engage with women who disclose the harm or their experiences, often having been subject to unimaginable brutality,” said Sarah Benson, Ruhama chief executive.

“We respond at a frontline level to support and assist recovery but that alone is not enough. As a nation we have a responsibility to these women, and those who are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation, to protect them and hold their abusers to account.”

Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland has pointed out that in the three years TORL has been campaigning “the pimps have continued their evil trade reaching into every county”.

“About 30 children have been identified as sex trafficked in Ireland over the period, while each day 1,000 women and girls are placed for sale on line in this country,” said Ms Charlton.

“It is now time for our politicians to listen to all who have united to get pimps, traffickers and organised crime out of their communities by targeting the men whose actions have brought human rights abuses on to our doorsteps.”

The committee is also expected to hear from groups who are calling for prostitution to be legalised, particularly those linked to the escort scene.

* RELATED ANALYSIS:

Turn off the red light

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