Welcome for reported Gov’t moves against sex trafficking and exploitation -  4th Jan
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) today welcomed a newspaper report that the Government is considering reforming its approach to combating sex trafficking and the exploitation of women in Ireland’s sex industry by reforming prostitution laws.

Today’s Irish Times reports that Justice Minister Dermot Ahern is considering adopting Sweden’s approach, where legislation was introduced to penalise those who buy sex. The move comes after a delegation from the Dignity Project – an EU-funded project which aims to provide best practice responses to victims of sex trafficking – travelled to Sweden last year to examine that country’s 10-year evaluation of its legislation which penalises the purchase of sex.


The ICI and Dublin Employment Pact are the lead partners in the Dignity project. In 2009, the ICI released research detailing the change in Ireland’s sex industry from being predominantly street-based to one centred on “indoor prostitution” in apartments and brothels around the country.  ICI chief executive Denise Charlton said the research revealed that about 90 per cent of the women involved in indoor prostitution are migrant women and significant numbers of women and children are being trafficked into Ireland’s sex industry. “The ICI, along with other civil society groups have been campaigning for Ireland to adopt the Swedish approach to combating sex trafficking and the exploitation of women in the sex industry by tackling the crucial link in their exploitation – the demand for paid sex – because that approach clearly works,” Ms Charlton said.

“That campaign has garnered very strong community support, from groups as diverse as trade unions, political parties, the Irish Country Women’s Association, women’s and men’s groups, anti-violence groups and organisations that work with women involved in prostitution, children and rape victims.  “We are very pleased that the Government is seriously considering adopting legislative reform of our prostitution laws because it is clear to us, as an organisation that works with migrant women, that Ireland’s current approach just wasn’t working to end the exploitation of migrant women in Ireland. We strongly urge the Government to introduce these necessary reforms.”

Dignity project coordinator Gráinne Healy said she was delighted the project’s decision to lead a delegation including representatives from the An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Law Reform to examine Sweden’s legislative approach could result in significant reform in Ireland.  “The people we spoke to on the ground in Sweden – those involved in law enforcement and those NGOs working with exploited women – made clear that effective legislation aimed at combating demand for paid sex was central to the success of their efforts to end the exploitation of women in prostitution,” Ms Healy said.

“The legislation is about more than penalising those men who pay for sex from women involved in prostitution, it is about making a statement that, as a society, we consider this exploitation unacceptable.”

To read the Irish Times article about possible reform of Ireland’s prostitution laws  click here