Prostitution Laws in Ireland – And a Men- led Campaign called ‘Prostitution – we don’t buy it!

The EU estimates that it generates €25bn by exploiting 600,000 people a year through sex trafficking. 

After a review of prostitution legislation in Ireland in 2012, and a discussion in their parliament about the potential implementation of new legislation that will see the purchase of sex criminalised, Legislation to enforce a “Swedish model” of anti-prostitution laws in Northern Ireland that criminalise the buyers of sex – there was some resistance.

The EU estimates that it generates €25bn by exploiting 600,000 people a year through sex trafficking. 

After a review of prostitution legislation in Ireland in 2012, and a discussion in their parliament about the potential implementation of new legislation that will see the purchase of sex criminalised, Legislation to enforce a “Swedish model” of anti-prostitution laws in Northern Ireland that criminalise the buyers of sex – there was some resistance.

Nevertheless, the Justice Committee of Ireland found: 

“…persuasive the evidence it has heard on the reduction of demand for prostitution in Sweden since the introduction of the ban on buying sex in 1999. It concludes that such a reduction in demand will lessen the incidence of harms associated with prostitution and – particularly in view of the predominance of migrant women in prostitution in Ireland – the economic basis for human trafficking into this State for the purpose of sexual exploitation.”

60 organisations, including the Immigrant Council of Ireland, called on the Justice Minister Alan Shatter to change the law so that the buyer of sex will be criminalised. 

The concerned groups believed that a change in the laws will help stop the abuse and trafficking of women and girls.

In Northern Ireland, on the 24 November 2014, the Sexual Offences Bill which sought to criminalise the purchase of sex was published. This Bill sought to criminalise the purchase of sexual services – while decriminalising those in prostitution. 

Sarah Benson, CEO, Ruhama said: “This Bill, which has support from the majority of the political parties in Northern Ireland, sends out a strong signal that those who buy sex, will be held accountable for their key role in fuelling organised crime and perpetrating abuse against victims of trafficking and exploitation.” 

Irish men have recently taken a stand for women, and against prostitution, in a country-wide  campaign. 

Men are being asked to support the new campaign “Prostitution – We Don’t Buy It”, which was launched today by Jill Meagher’s husband Tom, as well as the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Sex trade survivor and activist Rachel Moran. Watch the video here

The Irish Times reflects on the successful campaign, named Prostitution-We Don’t Buy It, is the first all-island project to ask Irish males to stand up against prostitution and sex trafficking.

Watch Tom Meagher’s Prostitution – we don’t buy it campaign Video here

A Red C poll commissioned as part of the campaign found that 88 per cent of Irish men have never bought sex.

Three out of four Irish adults believe women who sell sex have experienced abuse from sex buyers, while more than seven out of ten said they believed most women are drawn into prostitution by difficult circumstances such as poverty or other vulnerabilities.

Sarah Benson, chief executive of Ruhama, one of the main campaign partners, said the campaign was asking them “to make a stand against a trade that exploits women and girls, and which results in profits for criminal gangs”, as men who paid for sex never had any way of knowing if they were “buying from a coerced worker” and she said “the myth of the happy hooker is, sadly, just that”.

The launch also heard from sex trade survivor and activist Rachel Moran, who said: “It is important that men say to each other in their private conversations that it is not okay.”

She also warned against legalising prostitution and said that in countries where it happened prostitution had “exploded”.

Tom Meagher, of the Men’s Development Network, whose wife Jill was raped and murdered by serial rapist Adrian Bayley in the Australian city of Melbourne in 2012, said this campaign could be a turning point in male attitudes toward prostitution.

Mr Meagher spoke about the lies men tell themselves when paying for sex and the dehumanisation involved in the process.

“This dehumanisation comes from knowing that what they are doing is not right. If you pay for sex, the money is not buying consent, it is paying for the temporary suspension of the woman’s right not to consent.”

Mr Meagher also said there was a “need to end the lie that this is about sexual liberation. It isn’t, it is about sexual exploitation. The circumstances are usually coercive, but even if they are not, the buyer has no way of knowing .

“Ultimately, the only person making the choice is the buyer and the choices we make absolutely matter.”

Mr Meagher revealed he had been horrified by an interview given by Bayley in which the serial rapist attempted to justify his brutal treatment of sex workers.

“Two years ago I read this document from an interview with a man who had repeatedly and very violently raped a number of prostitutes in Australia,” Mr Meagher said.

“His answer to the question, ‘Why did you do this?’ in the interview was ‘I paid for her, I can do what I want with her’.

“Ten years later that man was out on parole and he raped and murdered my wife.”

Mr Meagher — who has become a vocal crusader against violence against women since his wife Jill was raped and murdered in September 2012 — went on to condemn the idea that paying for sex also bought a prostitute’s consent.

We need a similar campaign here in Australia. 

Australian Men need to stand up and declare: Prostitution – we don’t buy it!! 

We also need a change in our legislation to ensure the criminalisation of the demand for trafficked persons – while decriminalising those in prostitution. 

We need the Nordic Model here in Australia. 

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