PRIME TIME DOCUMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS ONGOING SCANDAL OF TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION IN IRELAND – SPEECH BY SENATOR POWER (9/2/2012)

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Minister. you may have seen the Prime Time Investigates programme last Tuesday regarding prostitution in Ireland. The show highlighted the appalling situation of women being trafficked into this country and forced into prostitution.

 

As Ruhama’s Sarah Benson stated on Prime Time, prostitution is a market-led trade and trafficking is so prolific that so-called punters are now able to order sex like the order take away food. Men literally pick up the phone night and ask themselves “Will I have Chinese tonight or will I try Thai or Polish?”

 

Pimps are making millions from this modern form of human slavery – in fact the Irish sex industry is estimated to be worth 250 million Euro per annum.

 

The nature of prostitution has changed dramatically. It has moved from street corners, dark lanes and parked cars to anonymous apartments all over the country.

 

Convicted pimps are continuing to operate without any fear of getting caught because the penalties are miniscule compared to the profits.

 

Indeed, Prime Time filmed Samantha Blandford recruiting one of its female reporters to work as a prostitute for her agency. Blandford was convicted in 2001 of organizing prostitution but was only given a fine of £6,500 and an 18-month suspended sentence.

 

Our laws and our penalties in this area are woefully inadequate.

 

Evidence from Sweden and Norway shows that the best way to reduce prostitution is to criminalise the purchase of sex.

 

As the Minister will be aware, a growing number of civic society groups – under the umbrella of the Turn Off the Red Light coalition – is campaigning for such legislation to be brought in here.

 

Last October, Minister Kathleen Lynch told this House that such a move was being considered by the Government. I would appreciate it if the Minister would give us an update in that regard because the law needs to be changed as a matter of urgency.

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