Men paying for sex must be challenged - report


PROSTITUTION:THE MEN who purchase sex are the critical link that must be challenged if trafficking and prostitution are to be addressed, the Immigrant Council of Ireland report says.

It calls for the criminalisation of men who buy sex, as Sweden has done and as Norway is about to.

The Irish prostitution industry is worth €180 million, fuelled by the one in 15 Irish men who is buying sex, according to the report.

Drawing on surveys by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency and by escort agencies, it finds the men who buy sex tend to be highly educated, on middle incomes and in professional occupations.

Some 61 per cent of them are married or in relationships. A significant proportion are buying sex at lunchtime or straight after work.

They are paying between €150 for half an hour and €250 for an hour, with some more expensive agencies charging €400 an hour on the basis that the men can “do what they like” with the woman.

“The proliferation and normalisation of the sex industry, together with an ideology that men are entitled to satisfy their sexual desires, are important contextual factors in the buying of sex,” say the authors.

They point to a belief, or expectation, among many men using prostitutes that women “enjoy” the experience and are emotionally engaged or interested in them. This is referred to on websites as the “girl-friend” experience. This belief that the women enjoy the work must be challenged, they say.

“There is a need for a public campaign demonstrating the intrinsic harm of prostitution to women.”

The Irish authorities are urged to follow the Swedish approach. There the “Prohibiting the Purchase of Sexual Services” code was enacted in 1999, under which a fine or prison sentence can be imposed for buying sex.

The legislation was accom-panied by investment in services for women exiting prostitution and a public awareness campaign aimed at men.

In contrast, legalising prostitution in The Netherlands and Germany “has not resulted in a reduction in trafficking, and organised crime has increased”.