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Sex-slave traffickers who forced migrants into prostitution in Ireland appeal sentences

The victims were put through juju rituals and believed if they ran away the curse would cause their death and serious harm to their families
Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase were sentenced to five years in prison in September

Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase were sentenced to five years in prison in September

Eamon Dillon

Two women at the centre of Ireland's first sex trafficking prosecution are set for a legal battle over their prison sentences.

Both Alicia Edosa and Edith Enoghaghase have lodged appeals against their convictions and sentences after being jailed last September.

Meanwhile, the DPP has also started an appeal against the undue leniency of the five-year prison terms imposed on the women.

Judge Francis Comerford at Mullingar Circuit Court imposed a jail term of five years and eight months on Edosa backdated to April 14, 2019 when she was first in custody.

He sentenced Enoghaghase to five years and one month in prison for similar offences, backdated to her conviction on June 10, 2021.

A number of women gave evidence of how they were lured to Ireland with the promise of a job only to find themselves forced into trafficking.

They also had been put through juju rituals and firmly believed if they ran away the power of the curse would cause their death and serious harm to their families at home in Nigeria.

During the sentence hearing Judge Comerford criticised the lack of regulation when it comes to advertising prostitution, referring to the website Escort Ireland, set up by convicted pimp Peter McCormick.

"It makes it ridiculously easy to advertise the services of people who are compelled to engage in prostitution against their will," he said.

The Sunday World has previously detailed how Escort Ireland was originally set up by McCormick and continues to operate from outside the jurisdiction.

Earlier this year it emerged McCormick's son, Mark McCormick, successfully had stories about his conviction for brothel keeping de-listed from Google's search engine.

The delisted articles include a story about McCormick being sentenced to 30 months in jail, 14 of which were suspended.

It was heard in court that he was the suspected author of a handbook instructing prostitutes what to say and how to behave with customers.

He was described in court as being "at the top of the ladder" in an organised prostitution ring that spanned the breadth of Dublin city.

Then aged 26, Mark McCormick pleaded guilty to seven counts of acting or assisting in the management of a brothel at six locations in Dublin city on various dates between November 6, 2005 and April 3, 2006.

Judge Tony Hunt called it an "operation of sophistication and detailed advanced planning".

He noted it was a profitable business, as demonstrated by a spreadsheet found that showed profits of €220,000 to be split between three people.

In November, Ruhama, a non-Government agency that helps women involved in prostitution, criticised the move to have the stories de-listed by the popular search engine.

"Women who are impacted by the exploitative nature of the sex trade are already so hidden," it said in a statement.

"As a result of this secrecy, they often find themselves in increasingly precarious and vulnerable situations without access to support."

The brutality of Ireland's sex trade was also highlighted in a damning report by researchers based at University College Dublin.

The two-year study of 144 women working as prostitutes who attended the Women's Health Service at the HSE found that those working in brothels and for escort agencies here are overwhelmingly migrants who have poor English, few friends or family in Ireland, and who turned to prostitution in a desperate bid for survival. The Confronting the Harm report said women turned to prostitution "to make ends meet" but had to deal with the constant threat of violence from pimps, human traffickers and clients.

The study also found they experienced persistent or recurring sexual and reproductive health problems due to demands for "harmful and risky practices".

Their "mental health and well-being are also impacted, with fears, anxiety, coping difficulties, stress and depression common features in the lives of women in the sex trade".

The findings of the report were also reflected in the Victim Impact Statements given by the trafficked women in the Mullingar trial last September.

Trafficking expert Siddharth Kara previously told the Sunday World sex slaves can be worth as much as €150,000 to criminal gangs in western Europe.

"They are brought to Europe with massive debts they have to repay in commercial sex.

"You can imagine - young, away from home, don't know the local language, probably vulnerable, oppressed and you've got this hold over you. The kind of exploitation that can take place is extraordinarily intense. All the profits accrue up the chain," he said.


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