'Naming and shaming' of sex purchasers urged
The “naming and shaming” of individuals who purchased sex would decrease demand for prostitution, the Oireachtas Justice, Defence and Equality Committee heard yesterday.
When asked by Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins about their views on what penalties should be in place were the purchase of sex to be criminalised in Ireland, representatives of two organisations said the naming of purchasers of sex would act as an effective deterrent.
Vanessa Hetherington, senior policy executive with the Irish Medical Organisation, said a Swedish law criminalising the purchase of sex had resulted in reduced demand and contained the extent of prostitution.
“I would think … the naming of perpetrators would be a deterrent in that people would not want to be known to have purchased . I think the Swedish example shows that that in itself is a deterrent, that people do not want to be caught and have their names identified,” Ms Hetherington said.
Similarly, Jacqueline Healy of the Women’s Council of Ireland said: “An effective deterrent could be like the name and shame in a newspaper – it could be a financial penalty, just something that sends out a message that this is actually a crime.”
However, Dr Eilís Ward of the school of political science and sociology at NUI Galway said there were two very tentatively generalisable conclusions supported by evidence-based research in this area: “That prostitution may be an area of public policy which cannot be managed or controlled effectively primarily by law although not by social justice or social policy and, secondly, that prostitution may be an area of public policy which can never be completely abolished.”
She said that recent discourses in Ireland proposing the Swedish model were not supported by evidence-based research and that, given critical literature which was beginning to emerge around the Swedish model, it would be a “very unwise basis on which to implement legal change” in Ireland.
“From the point of view of prostitution, it may be that the Irish State’s current legal framework may be as good as it gets … in that it enables a containment of growth of the industry. Its intention is not to criminalise the sex worker although in practice it does ... ”