Prostitution and legislation

 

Sir, – As academics in Ireland who have been following national and international developments in relation to prostitution regulation, we note that one year has passed since the publication of the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality that unanimously supported the enactment of laws penalising the purchase of sexual services of another person by means of prostitution, or any request, agreement or attempt to do so. Despite the political consensus on the committee, no progress has been made to implement its recommendations. The report summarises an extended national consultation process, which involved the publication of a consultation paper by the Department of Justice and Equality, followed by a call for written submissions which attracted in excess of 800 responses, an international study visit, a conference and oral hearings at the joint committee.

Even though the committee concluded that it found “persuasive the evidence it has heard on the reduction of demand for prostitution in Sweden since the introduction of the ban on buying sex in 1999”, no meaningful action has been taken to progress to the legislative stage. Contrary to the lack of political leadership on this issue in Ireland, other countries are acting decisively. The French National Assembly, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and an all-party committee of MPs in the UK have all supported targeting demand for prostitution to curb abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Canada, despite a controversial ruling providing a legal basis for prostitution establishments, has now engaged in a national consultation on this issue; some Canadian government ministers oppose a regularised sex “industry”. We are calling on the Government and the new Minister for Justice and Equality to target reducing the demand for prostitution as a priority by implementing the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, and adopting the Nordic model. – Yours, etc,

RONIT LENTIN,

Department of Sociology,

Trinity College Dublin;

URSULA BARRY,

KATHLEEN LYNCH,

MARY McAULIFFE,

MONICA O’CONNOR,

CIARÁN BENSON, UCD;

MARY CONDREN,

KIERAN McGRATH,

BARBARA BRADBY,

MARY CONDREN, TCD;

PATRICIA KELLEHER,

PAT O’CONNOR, UL;

DES McGUINNESS,

HELENA SHEEHAN, DCU.