Prostitution and the law

Sir, – Fionola Meredith ("Why new law banning the purchase of sex is patronising and problematic", Opinion & Analysis, October 29th) exposes the sheer hypocrisy of the whole campaign to ban the purchase of sex and the pathetic lack of evidence to bolster it. This campaign allegedly set out to rescue sex workers from oppression and violence but did not consult these same workers who strangely don't want to be "saved" and who provided compelling evidence why this law would put them at greater risk. This highly emotive campaign has been conducted in many countries and the methods are strikingly similar. It is run by an alliance of radical feminists and religious fundamentalists who talk in apocalyptic terms about a tide of trafficking operated by criminal gangs reaping huge profits from sex slaves who are always helpless victims. The evidence increasingly points the other way.

We are now told we must expect similar legislation to be published here before Christmas. Any such Bill introduced here will presumably be based on the report of the Oireachtas justice committee issued in June 2013 which voted unanimously in favour. But the whole process was flawed from the beginning. Turn Off the Red Light, well organised and well funded, managed to persuade a number of organisations, including six trade unions, to join it. Of the 15 justice committee members, seven had declared in favour of the proposal by the first day of hearings. There were 27 speakers on the Turn Off the Red Light side and only seven selected to speak against it.

This law has been rejected by Scotland (three times), Denmark and Finland. The French National Assembly voted for it in a near-empty chamber last December. The French senate rejected it last July after extensive consultations with sex workers who expressed alarm regarding their personal safety. The police opposed it because it would make it more difficult to tackle trafficking networks.

In the face of this evidence, much of it only known since the Oireachtas committee’s report was issued, it would be irresponsible to proceed with this measure. – Yours, etc,


Maynooth, Co Kildare.