Call to criminalise act of paying prostitutes for sex

Wed, Jun 10, 2009, 01:00

INDEPENDENT SENATOR Rónán Mullen has called for the prosecution of men who pay for sex to deter human trafficking.

Mr Mullen has moved a motion in the Seanad calling for the crimnalisation of the purchase of sex.

Currently, it is illegal to solicit or pay for sex in a public place.

Under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, it is also an offence to solicit a trafficked person for the purpose of prostitution.

Laws in England and Wales have been introduced outlawing the payment for sex to a woman “controlled for another person’s gain” (ie trafficked) but there is no law here against a man paying a prostitute.

Mr Mullen said Ireland should be a “cold house for traffickers” of women for prostitution, and stringent laws needed to be introduced to act as a deterrent.

He said criminalisation would curtail demand for the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and such measures have been introduced successfully in Scandinavia.

“In order to safeguard the welfare and dignity of sex industry victims, legislation must be robust.

“It is inconsistent to criminalise the activities of one set of abusers, the pimps and traffickers, without criminalising the actions of another set – the users,” Mr Mullen said.

The motion is supported by both Ruhama, an organisation which works with prostitutes, and by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.