A BILLBOARD campaign seeking a change in the law to make it illegal to pay for sex has been mounted in Limerick and across the country.
It highlights that many young children have been trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation, and the average age of those entering prostitution is 14 years old.
The campaign is part of a drive to raise public awareness of the ‘Turn Off the Red Light’ initiative and mobilise support for its efforts to end prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland through the criminalisation of demand.
The billboard message highlights the vulnerability and exploitation of women and girls in the sex industry, and it has also been trending on Twitter with the hashtag #AnnaWas14.
Doras Luimní, a local support group for all migrants and a member of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign, is calling for legislative reform aiming to end the exploitation of women and girls in communities throughout Ireland.
Welcoming the roll-out of the campaign to Limerick, Karen McHugh, chief executive of Doras Luimní, said: “The combined use of billboards and social media is an effective way of drawing attention to the human rights abuses taking place on our doorstep.
“The billboard features a young girl identified as ‘Anna’, highlighting the disturbing fact that the average age for entering prostitution is 14 years old. The official figures tell us that the Irish authorities became aware of eight children trafficked into Ireland for sexual exploitation in 2011, and 15 such cases were detected in 2010. We know that trafficking and exploitation are real and urgent issues. We have been advocating that the Irish Government adopt laws which have been effective in reducing sexual exploitation and trafficking in countries such as Sweden, and are now being considered in the North, Scotland and other EU regions. We are very hopeful that it we will see new legislation introduced as a result of this work. We are asking members of the public to continue to show their support and voice their views on Twitter using the #AnnaWas14 hashtag.”