THE Limerick Rape Crisis Centre is supporting calls for prostitution to be criminalised in Ireland, and its director believes the men who recently came before the courts on soliciting prostitutes should have been named in all newspapers.
Miriam Duffy, director of the centre which has been in existence for 32 years, said she believes all women, irrespective of their backgrounds, are forced into prostitution.
â€œThe image of the â€˜happy hookerâ€™ and the portrayal in the film Pretty Woman is so far removed from the reality of these womenâ€™s situations that it is laughable,â€ she told the Limerick Leader.
The Rape Crisis Network is among 48 organisations nationally who have formed under an umbrella group, calling itself â€˜Turn off the Red Lightâ€™, who want to see prostitution criminalised.
The group want to see Nordic-style legislation introduced here, which would grant sex workers immunity while those who buy sex are prosecuted.
While it is illegal to solicit for sex on the street or in public, it is currently not a criminal offence to buy or sell sex in Ireland.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that the government is considering criminalising the purchase of sex following questions in the Dail after last weekâ€™s Prime Time special investigation into prostitution around the country.
Doras Luimni, a Limerick based support group for all migrants throughout the mid-west, is also behind the calls for legal reform in this area.
The group said they are urging the government to prioritise this issue for 2012.
â€œProstitution is not a victimless crime. It takes the most vulnerable in any society and forces them to endure the worst of living and working conditions for the pleasure of others,â€ said a spokesperson.
They said the RTE investigation â€œonce again highlights the urgent need to reform Irish laws relating to prostitution and sex trafficking in Irelandâ€.
â€œYears of government inaction has meant that a loophole in Irish legislation has led to a flourishing of the Irish sex trade making it a highly profitable industry aided by the use of modern technology such as mobile phones and the internet. The programme succinctly demonstrated how women are moved by criminals from location to location, often under cover of darkness to different towns and cities around Ireland to facilitate demand for sexual services. These women have no control over their movements, or how much money they receive,â€ said the group.