One in 15 men say that they purchase sex occasionally — a 2% drop since 2015 — the newest survey on prostitution in Ireland has found.
However 87% of people — 77% of men and 94% of women — say that they have never purchased sex and never will in the future.
The majority of respondents (70%) know purchasing sex is now a criminal offence in Ireland, with more than 64% agreeing that gardaí need more resources to increase the number of arrests and prosecutions.
More than half (53%) think that criminalising the purchase of sex is a good idea. These attitudes are highest for males aged over 55 and for females in general, according to this Red C survey.
“We all know the jaded lies and the myths — like most women choose to be escorts, that lonely men are only looking for companionship with ‘the girlfriend experience’, or that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world,” said Barbara Condon, CEO of Ruhama, one of the organisations behind Prostitution: We Don’t Buy It — a campaign which wants to end prostitution and sex trafficking.
“But the truth is that prostitution always has been, and always will be, nothing more than the violent, degrading abuse of the poorest and most vulnerable women and girls. In what other ‘job’ do women regularly experience being spat at, strangled, punched, and raped, or to be seen as legitimate targets for misogyny and men’s violence? The lies and the myths are the justifications that allow the continuation of a multi-million euro business that benefits criminal gangs and online pimping websites masquerading as businesses that are trading openly in human misery.”
The survey, published today, found that 68% of people — 72% of women and 64% of men — believe that women are drawn into prostitution as a result of circumstances such as poverty or other vulnerabilities, while 8% believe that women freely chose prostitution. This is higher for men at 12%.
A significant majority (77%) believe that women in prostitution experience violence or abuse.
However, 10% of respondents say that although they have never purchased sex they have considered it.
The survey found a divergence in attitudes among younger ages, in particular 18- to 34-year-olds. This demographic is less likely to feel that women in prostitution do so as a last resort, for example, and are also less likely than the general population to believe that the people who benefit most are criminal gangs.
Sean Cooke, CEO of the Men’s Development Network, said this trend correlates with work that they do with men’s groups and international research that indicates a desensitising of attitudes with increased access to pornography and a glamorising of prostitution online particularly.
There is an estimated 1,000 women in prostitution in Ireland.