MIGRANT rights organisation Doras Luimni is backing calls to criminalise the purchase of sex and also believes the laws around prostitution are outdated as the sex trade increasingly moves indoors.
Doras CEO Karen McHugh has welcomed the announcement by Justice Minister Alan Shatter of a public consultation process which could result in the reform of Ireland’s prostitution laws. While offering to pay for sex is a criminal offence - over 20 men were brought before Limerick District Court last year for soliciting undercover gardai - it is not currently against the law to pay for or sell sex.
“We are looking at the demand side and the criminalisation of the purchase of sex along the lines of the Swedish model,” explained Ms McHugh.
Minister Shatter said changes in how prostitution works may require a legislative response.
“Prostitution was once mainly a street-based phenomenon. That is no longer the case. The organisation of prostitution is now much more sophisticated, highly mobile and is easily facilitated by the use of mobile phones and the internet,” he said.
“We welcome this consultation process and we see it as a positive step in recognising the changed nature of prostitution in Ireland,” said Ms McHugh.
“Existing legislation does not take into account the indoor sex trade in Ireland which has flourished in recent years to become a highly lucrative and organised industry, aided by on-line technology and mobile phones. This has lead to the exploitation of vulnerable women and girls across the country by international criminal gangs for significant financial gain.
Both as a local group and as a member of the Turn off the Red Light Campaign, Doras will be putting forward a detailed submission to the Government on this important issue”.
The Oireachtas Committee on Justice will facilitate submissions and hearings in the coming months before publishing a report for the minister in November.