Council to vote on banning buying sex

Cork City Council is to vote on a motion calling for the criminalisation of the buying of sex which, if passed, would make it the latest local authority to back the measure.

Catherine Clancy (Lab) will introduce the motion at a council meeting tonight on behalf of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, Cois Tine, and Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre.

The organisations are part of the national Turn Off the Red Light campaign, which is calling for the buying of sex to be illegal.

Similar motions have been passed by local authorities in Leitrim, Longford, and Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown.

Ms Clancy said local authorities have a duty to highlight the “hidden” sex trade industry.

“Every hour, over 200 men are buying sex in Ireland. Every day, internet escort sites advertise over 1,000 women and children — girls and boys.

“These are extraordinary figures. What does this mean in our city to have this thriving industry that is based on the abuse of women and children?

“There is an onus on us to highlight this hidden industry and to bring it out into the open.”

Nasc CEO Fiona Finn said: “Many of these women and children have been trafficked into Ireland for sexual exploitation.

“While Ireland has made substantial strides in addressing the issue of sex trafficking in recent years, to date we have failed to address the ‘demand’ side of the problem.

“If there was no demand for the purchase of sex, the sex-trafficking industry would collapse.”

Ireland was named in a US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report earlier this year as a destination, source, and transit country for those trafficked in the sex industry.

Meanwhile, Supt Frank O’Brien of Henry St Garda Station in Limerick said operations targeting those who sought the services of prostitutes were to be revitalised.

“Some concerns have been raised by the business community in the city centre so, we are revitalising our operation again.

“The final two cases resulting from Operation Freewheel were brought before the courts in recent days and others can take this as a warning that we will be focusing on targeting people seeking out the services of prostitutes.”

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