Sex work and the law

Sir, – Mia de Faoite argues that Ireland's criminalisation of the purchase of sex decriminalised women ("Law criminalising purchase of sex is in women's best interests", Opinion & Analysis, August 28th). There is no basis for this assertion.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 did not repeal the current ancillary offences that criminalise (or can criminalise) prostitutes, that is, living on the immoral earnings of prostitution, or the offence of brothel-keeping.

In fact, it doubled the penalties for these offences.

The increasingly harsh penalties imposed on sex workers was entirely intended by the Turn Off the Red Light campaign group.


It cannot seek to pivot after the entirely predictable consequences of its legislative agenda to try and encourage Garda Síochána training to rebuild trust between gardaí­ and women when the law makes some of the activities of sex workers criminal.

This to say nothing of the unintended consequences, whereby client criminalisation has led to increased violence against sex workers given that both parties are now criminalised. This gives the buyer greater bargaining power and prevents sex workers working together for safety.

Ireland should adopt a harm-reductionist model in fact instead of actually criminalising sex workers and pretending otherwise. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.