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Defending the right not to be bought or sold for sex

Published: Monday, June 21, 2021

Participants at today’s webinar on the new Beyond Exploitation campaign, led by the National Women’s Council in partnership with Ruhama and Immigrant Council of Ireland, heard from a wide range of civil society organisations, trades unions and politicians highlighting that prostitution cannot be the State’s answer to women and girls’ poverty and social exclusion. Speakers called on Government to uphold the clear human rights obligation that the State has to offer comprehensive supports and measures to people that allow them not to enter prostitution or to exit it if this is their choice.

Speakers addressed the clear sexism and racism rooted in gender inequality, poverty and unfair migration policies that can result in women and girls being coerced, groomed and compelled into prostitution. Government was called on to listen to the voices of the vast majority of women in prostitution who did not choose sexual exploitation or who found themselves there through circumstance, and would exit if they had their financial, accommodation and health and social care needs properly met.

Mia de Faoite, Survivor Activist & Campaign Coordinator said,

“Ireland needs to deliver the whole Equality Model. We must have the integrated supports and create the opportunities that allow all women and people in Ireland to choose not to enter prostitution because of poverty, migrant status or discrimination.  We must provide financial assistance, secure housing and supports to address addiction, education and training, and physical and mental health needs.  Beyond Exploitation will campaign to secure the exit strategies we need to end this unjust exploitation of women and girls.”

Barbara Condon, Ruhama said

“Ruhama looks forward to participating in Beyond Exploitation as a key partner in bringing the survivor voice to the campaign. The voice of the survivor is essential to the development of exit pathways that are trauma informed, accessible and offer real and viable alternatives to the sex trade. Women’s inequality is at the root of sexual exploitation and it is critical that adequate statutory resources are put in place to address this inequality. It is also important that these resources exist on a cross-departmental basis to provide a holistic and comprehensive support system. COVID-19 highlighted the extent of the vulnerability of women in the sex trade, reinforcing the need for statutory resources more than ever”.

Brian Killoran, Immigrant Council of Ireland said

“94% of people advertised for sex in Ireland are migrant women and we know that human trafficking in Ireland is similar to Europe where 95% of women who are trafficked are in terrible commercial sexual exploitation. Ireland’s responses to human trafficking have long been in need of reform, and we simply must address the complete absence of any measures for migrant women, most often in a precarious immigration situation, to exit the environment they are in. The regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants which the Government will be launching later this year shows a clear and brave commitment to bring those in marginalised immigration situations into the fold. The same is needed on a more permanent basis for those seeking to exit prostitution." 

More information about Beyond Exploitation is available on https://www.beyondexploitation.ie/


For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, Head of Communications, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104.