Life of a prostitute


Madam, – Eamon Delaney (September 1st) seems to entirely misunderstand the reasons why women are involved in prostitution. Prostitution and human trafficking are driven by wealth which sees females as products to be exploited for the sexual entertainment of men through the sexual abuse, degradation and acts of violence against women and girls. This international trade extends to every part of Ireland. Nine out of 10 prostitutes in Ireland today are foreign nationals.

Prostitution and the sex industry promote the myth that male sexuality must be satisfied by a supply of women and children who can be bought. This myth demands the creation of a group of girls and women who are legitimate targets for rape and sexual exploitation. Male abusers can act with impunity because they know that women in prostitution will not be believed or taken seriously by the criminal justice system, which shows that women in prostitution are conveniently dehumanised.

This suits the abusers because they can now deliberately target women’s vulnerabilities, such as a drug habit, in order to use and abuse them as they wish. The explosion of easy-to-access pornography is constantly increasing the levels of violence and the demands of men. To date the State has focused on the criminalisation of the women involved in prostitution and has paid little attention to the central role of the pimp and the customer in fuelling the abuse of women. Why? Labour Women believes that by tackling those who purchase sex we can protect women and children from prostitution.

Measures must focus on the responsibility of those who buy women in prostitution, and their strategic role in the chain of both prostitution and trafficking. Men who purchase sex from women and children are the fuel in this exploitation chain. Their demand perpetuates this dire situation and therefore must be tackled.

The average age internationally for females to enter prostitution is 14. That is the age of a child. Asking why the girls and women do not “stop doing it” is an uninformed response to deal with this crime that involves violence, poverty, intimidation, abuse and the rendering of girls and women to mere products-for-use.

If women involved in prostitution could stop doing it, as suggested by Mr Delaney, then those who are being forced by pimps to engage in the sex trade would stop immediately. The “just-stop-doing-it” argument fails to address the root cause of why women become prostitutes. That root cause is demand.

Perhaps the most powerful statement made about prostitution was made by those who were prostitutes themselves: “We, the survivors of prostitution and trafficking . . . declare that prostitution is violence against women. Women in prostitution do not wake up one day and ‘choose’ to be prostitutes. It is chosen for us by poverty, past sexual abuse, the pimps who take advantage of our vulnerabilities, and the men who buy us for the sex of prostitution” – (Manifesto, Joint Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-European Women’s Lobby, Press Conference, 2005).

We should let this statement guide our thinking and our actions. It is with Mr Delaney and similar-minded people that our work to combat the root causes of prostitution needs to start. – Yours, etc,


Chair, Labour Women,

Ely Place,

Dublin 2.