Ruhama group reports rise in cases

Wed, Aug 22, 2012, 01:00

An organisation dedicated to helping women affected by prostitution and trafficking says it saw numbers seeking help increase by almost one-fifth last year.

Ninety-one suspected victims of sex trafficking were assisted by Ruhama last year, according to its annual report released today.

One-quarter of the suspected sex-trafficking victims it dealt with were new cases, the Dublin-based non-government organisation said. The report reflects the growing “globalised nature of the Irish sex trade” as the 200 women it helped through casework were from 36 countries, it said.

Ruhama supported 241 women last year – 200 through casework and 41 through street outreach only.

While the number of new referrals of trafficking victims was slightly lower than last year, Ruhama chief executive Sarah Benson did not believe this represented the scale of the problem.

“The changing methods of control used by traffickers are making it more difficult for authorities to identify the hard edge of trafficking,” she said. To seek help most victims have to escape from traffickers and this results in a “relatively low number of victims receiving assistance”, she said.

The experiences reported to Ruhama “sadly echo” those it has heard for 22 years, she added.