Belfast Telegraph

Group in call over prostitution law

A leading rights group has urged the Government to push ahead with reform of vice laws to target people who pay for sex, rather than prostitutes.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) said Ireland should adopt the Swedish approach of penalising the buyer to crack down on the sex trade.

The ICI was part of the EU-funded Dignity Project which examined the best responses to victims of sex trafficking.

Denise Charlton, ICI chief executive, has been campaigning for Ireland to adopt Swedish law to combat sex trafficking and the exploitation of women by targeting where the demand comes from.

"That approach clearly works," she said.

"We are very pleased that the Government is seriously considering adopting legislative reform of our prostitution laws because it is clear to us, as an organisation that works with migrant women, that Ireland's current approach just wasn't working to end the exploitation of migrant women in Ireland."

It is understood the Department of Justice is considering reforming laws on prostitution to penalise those who pay for sex rather than those who sell it.

While Sweden became the first European state to ban the sale of sex in 1999, similar legislation has since been introduced in Norway and Iceland.

At present in Ireland it is a crime to solicit for prostitution but not a crime to pay for sex.

Ms Charlton said ICI research revealed about 90% of the women working in brothels are migrants and significant numbers of women and children are being trafficked into the sex industry.

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