LIMERICK’S local authorities have endorsed a motion for legislative change to make the purchase of sex illegal in Ireland.
Local migrant group Doras Luimní had been calling on politicians at all levels to endorse the Turn off the Red Light (TRL) campaign, which seeks to end prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland.
CEO Karen McHugh said they had hoped that local politicians would send a strong message to the government that the people of Limerick want to bring an end to exploitation and trafficking in the Irish sex trade.
Ms McHugh said they are delighted that both Limerick city and county councils have now endorsed the motion.
“We know that domestic policies on prostitution strongly influence trafficking flows,” she said.
Ms McHugh pointed out that in Germany there was a sharp rise in reports of human trafficking following the legalisation of prostitution in 2002, while in Sweden and Norway criminalisation of demand has been followed by a contraction of the sex industry and reduced levels of trafficking.
In Limerick, she said there is concern that this industry “is being operated by organised crime gangs feeding off the vulnerable and voiceless”.
“The workers endure terrible conditions including exposure to exploitation and violence on a daily basis. Their earnings are often confiscated, their documents withheld and their families in their country of origin are threatened and intimidated while the criminals continue to profit. We want stronger laws that prohibit the buying of sex because demand is the basis of this whole industry.”
Doras Luimní is one of 62 organisations which make up the TRL campaign.
The Minister of Justice Alan Shatter has agreed that the legislation needs to be reviewed, while a discussion document published by the department this summer has set out a number of different approaches to tackling the sex trade, including non-criminalisation, which would mean sex workers would have to comply with employment, health and safety, and human rights and equality legislation.
The Oireachtas justice committee will hear submissions on this issue made by interested groups over the next two months.