Former prostitutes ‘offended’ by Clare Daly stance on sex industry

Independent TD argued criminalising purchase of sex will not tackle root causes

A number of survivors of prostitution are particularly "aggrieved and offended" at the decision by Clare Daly TD not to support their campaign for the purchase of sex to be criminalised, it was stated yesterday.

Rachel Moran and Justine Reilly were speaking at the announcement yesterday of a new international lobby group Space (Survivors of Prostitution-Abuse Calling for Enlightenment) which aims to have the men who purchase people's bodies for sex, criminalised. The new group has members in Ireland, Britain and the United States and aims for the approach taken in Sweden and Norway, to be enacted here first and then in other countries.

The impact in the Nordic countries had been a reduction in trafficking of women and girls and a fall in rape and battery of those in prostitution.

“It is a human rights abuse. We are all survivors and we know how this works,” said Ms Moran. She and Ms Reilly are involved in the Turn off the Red Light Campaign, which wants to have the Scandinavian approach enacted here.


Speaking in the Dáil on May 3rd, on a Private Members’ Bill to criminalise the purchase of sex, independent TD Clare Daly said sex trafficking and violence against women were reprehensible.

However, she said the Bill did "not deal with sex trafficking and violence against women. It is simply based on the premise that by criminalising people who purchase sexual services . . .the demand will fall off and the problem will be solved . . .I do not believe that is the case or that there is evidence to support that claim."

Ms Moran said: “As a woman I am offended that a woman of her background would not support a campaign that wants to change the lives of some of the most deprived, vulnerable and abused women in society.”

Ms Reilly, who was involved in prostitution for almost 20 years, got out after reading a news article about Ruhama, the support organisation for people involved in prostitution.

“I really had reached a point where either I was going to kill a client or I would force him to kill me. I just wanted out. My spirit was gone. My body was sore all the time. I was drinking every single night. I hated the men. You are nobody. They don’t look at you. They come in and empty themselves into you and they leave. They tear and claw at your flesh. They pull at the most intimate parts of your body and they don’t care. ”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times