A letter to the editor by David Walsh, published in the Irish Times
Sir, – Fionola Meredith (“Why new law banning the purchase of sex is patronising and problematic”, Opinion & Analysis, October 29th) exposes the sheer hypocrisy of the whole campaign to ban the purchase of sex and the pathetic lack of evidence to bolster it. This campaign allegedly set out to rescue sex workers from oppression and violence but did not consult these same workers who strangely don’t want to be “saved” and who provided compelling evidence why this law would put them at greater risk. This highly emotive campaign has been conducted in many countries and the methods are strikingly similar. It is run by an alliance of radical feminists and religious fundamentalists who talk in apocalyptic terms about a tide of trafficking operated by criminal gangs reaping huge profits from sex slaves who are always helpless victims. The evidence increasingly points the other way.
We are now told we must expect similar legislation to be published here before Christmas. Any such Bill introduced here will presumably be based on the report of the Oireachtas justice committee issued in June 2013 which voted unanimously in favour. But the whole process was flawed from the beginning. Turn Off the Red Light, well organised and well funded, managed to persuade a number of organisations, including six trade unions, to join it. Of the 15 justice committee members, seven had declared in favour of the proposal by the first day of hearings. There were 27 speakers on the Turn Off the Red Light side and only seven selected to speak against it.