European & International News

Ireland: Campaign to end prostitution succeeds in putting criminalisation on the political agenda

[Brussels, 26 April 2012] The Irish Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter outlined on 18 April a one year timeline to review the ’outdated’ law on prostitution. A public consultation will be launched before the end of May, and a possible bill sent to the Parliament by the end of the year. The Irish campaign Turn Off the Red Light: End Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Ireland takes pride with this progress and welcomes the Minister’s commitment.

Six months of campaigning

The Irish campaign Turn Off the Red Light: End Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Ireland has gained political momentum in the last six months. The Irish Senate (Seanad) debated a motion calling on the Government to criminalise the purchase of sex, in October 2011. As a result, Minister Shatter promised a six month period in which he would announce a consultation to review the laws surrounding prostitution.

During that six month period, the campaign generated a significant amount of public support to the issue of exploitation and trafficking for prostitution. Two investigative documentaries on national TV showing the widely spread criminal-led sex industry and the dire situation of predominantly migrant women within it, played an important role generating attention. The Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny commented in February that the documentaries “showed the appalling abuse of women throughout the country.” He also said he is "considering a number of structures under which the purchase of sex can be criminalised, as is the case in Sweden and a number of other locations.”

The Turn off the Red Light has participated with information stands and workshops in major national events, including in the main political party conferences this Spring, and presently concentrates on mobilising the local authorities around Ireland in adopting motions in support of the idea. To date, 52 civil society organisations and unions have endorsed the campaign, meaning the idea has over a million supporters in Ireland.

The Turn off the Red Light campaign welcomed Minister Shatters commitment is now preparing for the period in which public submissions will be invited by the government to advise the framework of the proposed legislation.

The alliance is a partner to the EWL campaign Together for a Europe free from prostitution.

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