News

Regulations in the North causing prostitution to soar in Ireland

NewsBy Morgan Flanagan Creagh
Regulations in the North causing prostitution to soar in Ireland

New regulations in Northern Ireland are causing prostitution south of the boarder to soar, according to new figures released by The Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Stormont’s sex buyer laws came into force five months ago causing a 204 per cent rise in online prostitution in the Republic, according to the figures. 

The Stormont Assembly passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill in June, which included a clause making paying for sex a criminal offence.

This move, which is set to be copied in Ireland, was made despite a ruling from Amnesty International to: “adopt a policy that seeks attainment of the highest possible protection of the human rights of sex workers, through measures that include the decriminalisation of sex work”.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland found that online prostitution is now clustering along the M1 out of Northern Ireland, with 29 women profiled in Co Louth compared to two in Down and three in Armagh.

Today police in Northern Ireland made their first arrest under the new offence of paying for sex.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton said a man had been detained during a raid on a suspected brothel.

He gave only brief details of the arrest, which happened last month, as he addressed members of his oversight body - the Northern Ireland Policing Board - in Belfast on Thursday.

Earlier this year feminist sex worker and Sex Workers Alliance member Catriona wrote about her fears about the upcoming bill in Ireland, in The Journal.ie

“The proposed bill terrifies me as a sex worker, as it ignores evidence that criminalisation doesn’t work and, more importantly, ignores our voices.

“Sex workers’ voices often get drowned out by NGOs, because in their eyes we are not representative. According to research done by Queen’s University on prostitution in Northern Ireland, however, 98% of sex workers didn’t want to see the introduction of legislation criminalising sex there. If that’s not representative, then I’m not sure what is.

“Worst of all, sex workers experience worse work conditions and feel more stigmatised as a result of criminalisation.”

The new legislation, which will criminalise the purchase of sex, has been described as a “huge step backwards” and likened to Ireland’s controversial blasphemy laws, which were enacted in 2009.

The new bill will also reform the law on incest as well as strengthening the law in relation to child pornography and grooming children for sex.