Move ‘will help sex workers’

An Irish sex worker has welcomed Amnesty International’s draft policy to decriminalise sex work globally. 

Members of the international human rights organisation are meeting in Dublin this weekend where they are expected to vote in favour of the draft policy that supports the decriminalisation of sex work.

Catriona O’Brien, spokesperson for the Sex Workers’ Alliance Ireland, said: “They’re taking a sensible human rights approach. They developed this policy over two years of extensive research, where they interviewed sex workers in Galway, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea and Amnesty found decriminalisation was the best model”.

The meeting, part of Amnesty’s 32nd International Council Meeting, will call for brothel keeping to be decriminalised and rejects the Swedish Model which calls for the criminalisation of the clients of sex workers.

Ms O’Brien said: “I work as a sex worker in Ireland, by criminalising my clients it will make me more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and violence. The Government has completely ignored the voices of sex workers and wants to pass legislation that will push us further into the margins and cut us off from Garda support. I have friends who are sex workers who have been raided because of our current brothel laws. We work together for our own safety and amnesty’s draft policy reflects this.”

Ruhama, an NGO which favours the criminalisation of clients, is firmly opposed to the draft legislation.

A statement by the group, which work with sex workers in Ireland, said: “Ruhama, in conjunction with many international colleagues have been working hard to try to raise our concerns directly with the many international delegations who will be attending. Each delegation will have one vote and each vote counts.”

Ms O’Brien said the criminalisation of sex worker clients — recently introduced in the North — has failed to reduce prostitution.


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