Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Any debate on prostitution needs all the facts

I REFER to the article by Fionola Meredith (DebateNI, February 7). Your correspondent accused certain MLAs on the justice committee of carrying out a "witch -hunt" against those who seek to liberalise the law on prostitution.

Ms Meredith failed to mention that Lord Morrow's Bill has the support of the ICTU, Women's Aid and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. None of these groups could ever be accused of launching a "moral crusade".

Ms Meredith also ignored the fact that Sweden, Norway and Iceland have all moved from a very liberal stance on the sex industry to making it illegal to purchase the services of a prostitute.

It is noticeable that Ms Meredith made no reference of the evidence given to the committee by Rachel Moran, a former prostitute who worked the streets of Dublin. Her compelling presentation revealed the appalling levels of abuse suffered by hundreds of women working in the Republic.

Ms Meredith believes that decriminalising prostitution will provide protection for women.

She conveniently overlooked the fact that in Holland, where prostitution is legal, 127 women have been murdered by their clients and pimps in the last 30 years. In Sweden, where the purchase of sexual services is illegal, the equivalent figure is one.

I, like many other MLAs, totally support Lord Morrow's Bill. I strongly believe that, given all the facts, your readers will reject Ms Meredith's views.

JIM WELLS (DUP)

MLA for South Down

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