MORE foreign women are being trafficked here to work in the sex trade amid growing fears that Irish women are also turning to prostitution because of the recession.
The biennial report by Ruhama, which campaigns for women working in prostitution, said it dealt with 341 clients in 2007 and 2008, 100 of whom were brought into the country from overseas.
Six women trafficked here were aged under 18 and some of those trafficked into the country were as young as 15.
Of the new referrals to Ruhama, 55 were trafficked directly into Ireland to work in the sex trade for Irish and foreign bosses.
There has also been an increase in street-based prostitution since the economic downturn.
Ruhama spokeswoman Gerardine Rowley said the main point of entry for women coming from overseas was airports, but there was also a problem with people coming from the North.
“What we are noticing is that some of the women are brought in from the North, they are moved around the country and there is certainly no border.
“We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. We are only dealing with those who are lucky enough to get away.
“That is why we need pro-active policing, we need to have service providers who are acutely aware of the signs to help women get away.”
Ms Rowley said the sex trade had become increasingly violent and dangerous.
“It is much worse, more violent, more money taken from them, more control,” she said. “We know of women who were told that they owed maybe sixty, seventy thousand euro for their travel – now everybody knows it couldn’t be that.”
Ruhama said there had also been an increase on street-based prostitution, leading to fears that some Irish women will be drawn into the sex trade because of the affects of the recession.
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