Posts Tagged ‘prostitution’

Sex Work and Drugs in Ireland: New Research

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs has published a fascinating report entitled Drug Use, Sex Work and the Risk Environment in Dublin, available here. In particular, the report makes a number of interesting findings about drug users’ reasons for working in the sex industry:

  • All the men and women interviewed were dependent heroin users prior to engaging in sex work; a significant minority were minors at the time.
  • There were a variety of entry routes into sex work; the dominant route being through peer or friendship networks. This often happened when the person had financial problems and their friend/acquaintance paved the way for them to become involved in sex work. For a significant minority of participants this introduction happened while homeless and/or staying in emergency accommodation.
  • For most of the participants the primary rationale for engaging in sex work was economic; to ‘make ends meet’ and/or ‘for the sake of me habit’. Sex work provided a source of income and hence financial independence. Moreover, it was often considered less risky than alternative sources of income, such as drug-dealing and shop-lifting.
  • The interface between participants’ drug use and their sex work was complex. The men and women interviewed needed a continual source of funds to maintain their (often multiple) drug dependency. For most, sex work proved very lucrative in this regard. However, the increased income obtained from sex work invariably contributed to an escalation in drug use.

Wednesday’s ‘Today With Pat Kenny’ featured an exchange based on the report between a representative of the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland, which advocates ‘a move away from portraying sex workers as victims and towards a realisation that many people choose to work in the sex industry‘ and a spokesperson for the Christian NGO Ruhama. The podcast is available here.

Fine Gael promises to ‘stamp out’ Ireland’s sex and slave trade

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Fine Gael Immigration & Integration Spokesman, Denis Naughten TD will tonight bring forward a Private Members’ Motion which aims to address the issue of trafficking of women and girls through and to the state in the service of the sex industry. The full text of the press release is here. You can find more information on Fine Gael’s immigration policy here. It includes a policy statement on human trafficking. The Immigrant Council of Ireland has a wonderful collection of resources on the Irish approach to human trafficking here, the IHRC provides information here, and you can find details of the government’s anti-trafficking policy here and here. The image at left is the logo of ‘Blue Blindfold‘; a European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative, of which Ireland is a member. Fine Gael promises that its scheme will eliminate sex trafficking by:

• Moving the focus on human trafficking from Garda National Immigration Bureau to the Garda Organised Crime Unit;
• Ending the policy of placing victims of human trafficking in asylum centres and introducing independent accommodation, support and protection services. NGOs believe that in some instances traffickers are targeting asylum seekers hostels and identifying women and young girls who they attempt to lure into a life of prostitution;
• Extending the ‘period of recovery and reflection’ as defined in the Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill 2008 now before Dáil Éireann;
• Extending the remit of the Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit to include migrant women in prostitution;
• Establishing a High Level Group to examine our prostitution laws with a view to preventing the proliferation of sex trafficking.

The press release goes on to say that ‘our law currently provides for a defence in court to prove that they did not know that the person was trafficked. However, a new law for the UK will bring a provision of direct liability into force meaning that ignorance to the fact an individual was sex trafficked will not be defensible in court.’ This seems to refer to provisions of the Policing and Crime Act, 2009 which criminalise the purchase of sex. The Guardian has a good collection of UK resources on human trafficking here. The Dignity Project (a joint initiative of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Dublin Employment Pact) has also urged the introduction of legislation which would criminalise men who buy sex.

The press release further says that ‘[t]he reality is that unless we adopt a decisive and practical approach to protection and support systems, victims will not come forward to Garda authorities. This is fundamental to securing convictions against those directly involved in this trade, and objective which every political party supports.’ Ruhama, the organisation which works with women who have been exploited for sex, has criticised the government for not ensuring that protection is offered to as many victims of human trafficking as possible.

Bekker on Human Trafficking and the Law in Ireland

October 20, 2009 1 comment

Act to Prevent Trafficking Ireland held a conference in Dublin on Monday entitled ‘Human Trafficking: Psychologically Shattered & Caught in a Legal Quagmire’. Hilkka Bekker, Senior Solicitor at the Immigration Council of Ireland, presented an informative paper on the inadequacy of  Ireland’s current law to address the problems faced by many victims of trafficking.  The Irish Times summarises the paper in its report on the conference:

Hilkka Becker, a solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, called for a quick and streamlined “avenue”, with an independent appeals mechanism, to compensate trafficking victims for the trauma they had suffered.

In cases where the trafficker could not be found, there was an obligation on the State to provide compensation, she told the conference organised by Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT).

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board offered a “theoretical possibility” for claiming such compensation, but only for out of pocket expenses and not pain and suffering, Ms Bekker said.

It was also possible to sue under employment law but in the case of victims of sexual exploitation, the State was unlikely to recognise the form of the exploitation suffered under the legislation. She said the council was seriously concerned victims of trafficking often did not seem to get the breathing space to allow them to recover, escape the influence of the traffickers and make an “informed decision” on whether to co-operate with gardaí.

The State should ensure permission to remain here was not dependant on whether a victim was prepared to co-operate in a prosecution of traffickers.

Addendum: See the ICI’s Press Release on Human Trafficking here

There are glaring gaps in terms of the type of accommodation provided to women and girls who escape their traffickers, we need to ensure that they received access to independent legal advice at an early stage after they come forward or are rescued and there are insufficient guarantees that they will not be prosecuted for offences they might have committed as a direct result of their having been trafficked.

In addition, the process of officially recognising someone as a victim of trafficking and providing a reflection and recovery period must be improved with an appropriate structure and timeframe that reflects the urgency of the need to ensure she is safe and receiving the services she needs….

The Immigrant Council of Ireland calls for Ireland to adopt the approach of Sweden, Norway and Iceland, where purchasing sexual services has been outlawed.’