At the national level

EWL members call for new Irish legislation abolishing prostitution

[Brussels, 19 October 2012] A broad national consultation on what the future prostitution legislation in Ireland should look like was launched by the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality in June 2012. Last Saturday (13 October), a one-day conference on the Future Direction of Prostitution Legislation was held as part the consultation process.

The Irish Minister for Justice Mr Alan Shatter recalled that the regulations put in place in early 1990s appear to be outdated and in need of review within the completely altered picture of the system of prostitution in Ireland. International speakers from the law enforcement authorities in the Netherlands and Sweden addressed the delegates with their respective experiences and recommendations.

The widely pro-prostitution sentiments expressed by the invited academic presenters clashed with the public opinion united under the Turn Off the Red Light (TORL) campaign that represents 61 groups with a combined membership exceeding 1.6 million people in Ireland.

Sarah Benson, CEO of Ruhama and present Irish expert at the EWL Observatory on Violence against Women warned that “Those who argue in favour of prostitution tend to take a utopian view of the sex trade. Regulate it and it will be okay they will say. This will eliminate child prostitution, eliminate trafficking, make it all safer for everybody. The reality is that this is an utterly unattainable goal.”

Speaking on behalf of the Immigrant Council of Ireland that presently coordinates the TORL alliance, Nusha Yonkova urged the legislators ”to recognize the need for a new approach to prostitution that reflects the best international practice, where tackling the demand for paid sex plays central role” adding that the TORL demands reinforce “well established Irish values, such as the importance of consensual sex where money, power and exploitation play no role”.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Equality and Mental Health, Ms Kathleen Lynch said that the Irish society is faced with the question of whether or not prostitution could be the answer to poverty and to drug addiction, while the issue of the sex industry being ‘underground’ or ‘on the internet and indoors’ is not central indeed.

The consultation process in Ireland continues. The TORL partners are looking forward to participating in the expected upcoming oral presentations to the Parliament.

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