learn > news

Latest News

Sex For Rent Exploitation happening across the country; affecting the most marginalised women: NWC

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2024

Women in extreme housing difficulty are being forced to make a choice between sexual exploitation and homelessness, according to a new report from the National Women’s Council. Published today, the report recommends that landlords engaging in sex-for-rent exploitation should be criminalised, including the proposing of such an arrangement even when it is not accepted by the tenant. It also recommends extending protections for renters.

Feargha Ní Bhroin, NWC’s Violence Against Women Officer and author of the report, said:

“Sex for rent exploitation is gendered. It seems to be overwhelmingly women who are impacted, and it is mostly men in privileged positions relative to the women – (they have housing and the victims do not) – who are carrying it out.  At its root is the intersection of the housing crisis with a general context of gender-based violence. It primarily affects women who are renting a room in a house, as opposed to own-door accommodation so they enter a situation of living with their predator, and these renters do not have the protections granted to other tenants. The two-tier rental system where some renters are protected by law, but others are not, must end.”

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council, said:

“Sex for rent exploitation is damaging, degrading, and dehumanising for women. Our research has shown us that it is the most marginalised women who are impacted. We are talking about women experiencing homelessness, migrant women including women refugees who are trying to leave Direct Provision, women fleeing domestic violence. And we know it is happening all over the country. However, there is also a lack of in-depth research about the real prevalence of this form of sexual exploitation.”

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation Ireland, said:

“Equality For All In Thriving Communities, is the mission of the Foundation and its donors. Exploitation, harassment and violence have no place in an equal society. Our donors have made this pioneering research possible and we endorse the recommendation that sex for rent exploitation be criminalized. Such a step reflects an Equality Model which criminalises buyers and traffickers who take advantage of poverty to exploit women.”

Feargha Ní Bhroin concluded:

“We make several recommendations in this report. Government must take immediate steps to end the exploitation of women in this situation by outlawing sex for rent exploitation and extending tenancy protections to all renters. However, it is an unfortunate truth that in a heavily constrained rental market like the one we are currently experiencing, abuse of renters will continue. Sex for rent exploitation is unlikely to be successfully eliminated until the housing crisis is ended.”


For comment: Feargha Ní Bhroin and Orla O’Connor

Find here the report: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/NWC_Sex_For_Rent_Research.pdf

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, on sineadn@nwci.ie


What: Launch of Sex-For-Rent Exploitation Research

When: 16 May, 10:30 am

Where: online, register here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/webinar-research-launch-sex-for-rent-tickets-690059866637

This research has been part-funded by the Community Foundation of Ireland and the European Women’s Lobby.

About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie