Rape crisis group condemns strip club licence

THE arrival of a Stringfellow’s lapdancing club in Dublin is another nail in the coffin of a safe and equal society for women, the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) said yesterday.

Dublin District Court has granted an application for a public dance licence to Peter Stringfellow for the controversial premises on Parnell Street, which local residents had tried to block.

But the RCNI last night said lapdancing clubs create sex objects of women and won’t help the battle against sexual violence in Ireland.

The RCNI is dismayed that Mr Stringfellow’s lapdance club defeated attempts by local residents to halt its opening.

“It is important to bear in mind that any such venue of this nature adds to the culture of degradation and objectification of women in our society,” said RCNI executive director Fiona Neary.

“We live in a society where women, men and children are daily subjected to casual sexual violence perpetrated by men who claim, and may even believe, that what they do is ‘normal’ and cannot be called an assault or an offence.

“This defence can only come about and be sustained in a society where we tolerate the use of women as sex objects; where we tell men they should be and are always up for it, and where women are portrayed as always available to men.

“In these circumstances, is it any wonder so many men fail to seek consent from women they intend having sex with?”

The RCNI said sexual violence cannot be separated from the increasingly pornographic backdrop to our everyday lives.

“The merits or demerits of this particular lapdancing club are not at issue here. What is certain is that this club is one more nail in the coffin of any hopes for an equal and safe society,” Ms Neary said.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) said public licences for strip clubs should have stricter conditions than those required for nightclubs.

It also called on the gardaí to monitor the impact of Stringfellow’s on the local community.

“We view lapdancing as being part of the spectrum of commercial sexual exploitation, which contributes to a culture where women are viewed as objects available for the sexual gratification of men,” NCWI director Dr Joanna McMinn said yesterday.

“The Government should have greater powers in relation to licensing such clubs and they should be viewed and licensed as sex establishments and subject to the same controls.

“Lapdancing clubs are in direct contradiction with attempts to promote equality between men and women, and could well contribute to hindering further progress in this area.”

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