Criminalising the buyers of sex will endanger women, says sex worker

Listen: in this week's Róisín Meets podcast, sex worker and star of RTÉs Connected, Kate McCrew, says new legislation could increase trafficking of women for the sex industry

Sex worker and star of RTÉ's Connected Kate McGrew says that a proposal to criminalise the buyers of sex will lead to an increase in the illegal trafficking of women for the sex industry. “If I suffer from criminalisation of clients, and I will, the women who are most vulnerable will suffer so much worse. Trafficking will be worse if they introduce criminalisation. It breeds criminality and makes for shadier business,” says McGrew on this week’s “Roisin Meets” podcast.

The Turn off the Red Light campaign, which is backed by a wide range of groups in the charity and voluntary sector, has said that such a measure would help end trafficking. Last June, the Oireachtas justice committee recommended that such a law be enacted.

McGrew also says that many claims made about prostitutes are not based in fact, including a statistic, put to her in a recent radio interview, that '95% of sex workers are drug addicts'.

"Where that came from was a UK Home Office statistic from a drug outreach centre. So lo and behold, of the 100 prostitutes that they talk to about their drug use, 95% of them consider themselves drug addicts," says McGrew. "These stats get isolated and bandied about, and you don't know where they're from".
She also speaks about the difficulty of revealing her sex work to her family, particularly her mother. "I wrote her a letter, because I knew that was how I was going to tell her most clearly," she says. "That night she wrote me an email, and bless her heart she was apologetic through the letter, going 'I'm sure I'll come to better conclusions or more refined thoughts, but right now I cannot sleep, I feel sick to my stomach… so that was really hard to receive, because I could feel how much I was hurting her, and how much stress I was causing her".

To listen to the dicussion, log on to the show’s Soundcloud page or subscribe for free via iTunes or Stitcher.