Bought, used, humiliated and raped... woman tells MLAs of her life in sex trade
A former sex worker who was gang raped by eight men has urged the Assembly to press ahead with plans to outlaw prostitution in Northern Ireland.
Mia De Faoite recalled how she was subjected to the brutal attack months after starting work in the Republic's sex industry.
In a harrowing account to the Assembly's justice committee, she described how during nearly six years as a prostitute she was treated worse than a rag doll.
Ms De Faoite was giving evidence as the committee heard further evidence on the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill.
The legislation, proposed by DUP MLA Lord Morrow, aims to make it illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland and boost support for victims of trafficking.
Ms De Faoite had worked for the Republic's Health Service Executive but became addicted to heroin when she was 33.
Desperate for money to feed her habit, she turned to prostitution.
"I knew I had a valuable commodity, for I had a female body which I could sell," she said.
Ms De Faoite said she turned to prostitution while on "a mind-altering substance". She spent almost six years on the streets of Dublin before quitting in October 2010.
During that time she said she was repeatedly raped and abused.
"Rape does become part of the job, so much so that we don't even use the term rape – we don't have permission to," she said.
Her voice at times faltering, she recalled how she was working with a friend at a party where they were paid for sex.
The atmosphere changed after hours of drug and alcohol consumption by the men, she said.
"I said goodbye. I could feel something had changed. They said 'you're not going anywhere. We're not finished'."
Ms De Faoite said they suffered "unimaginable horror".
"We were like rag dolls, not even. We were just objects to be passed around," she added.
Some of the details she gave to the committee are too distressing to be reported.
Her friend Jenny's drug use spiralled out of control and she died three months later.
Urging MLAs to pass Lord Morrow's proposals, she said prostitution led to human trafficking and had no place in a humane society.
"We either choose one or the other. I implore you to come to a wise choice," she said.
Ms De Faoite is now a second-year student in philosophy and sociology at Maynooth university. .
She said she had no sympathy for men who pay for sex, adding: "They mess around with the minds and bodies of the most damaged women I ever met."
She said women were "bought, used, exploited, humiliated and raped" at the hands of Ireland's men.
Lord Morrow's proposed legislation, the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, contains 19 clauses updating Northern Ireland's laws on prostitution and trafficking. The law could set a minimum two-year jail term for trafficking or slavery. It is based on a Swedish law which criminalises anyone who pays for sex.