Sex workers face jail time under new legislation, warns alliance

Jan 27, 2016
Sex Work News
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Sex workers could be jailed for working together indoors for safety reasons under new legislation, Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) has warned.

Speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, Kate McGrew from SWAI said under new legislation a client does not face a prison sentence while a sex worker can be criminalized.

“Our Government keep telling us they want to protect the most vulnerable women by criminalizing the men that buy sex from them, but under this new legislation a client will not face a prison sentence yet a worker will,” said Ms McGrew. “The Government has now doubled the fines and doubled the prison sentence for sex workers caught working together in an apartment or house. If it is the Government’s aim to stop prostitution by ending demand, then why are they increasing the penalties and further criminalizing workers?”

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses) Bill 2014, published in November 2014, contains measures to criminalize the purchase of sex, along the lines of the approach taken in Sweden, and other Nordic countri

Critics of the bill have said the approach fails to acknowledge the position of those who choose to be in the sex industry, whether because of a lack of other economic options or because they want to.

Ms McGrew called on the Government to introduce a two-year review of the legislation to evaluate its impact on the lives and welfare of sex workers, adding that in Sweden, where the law was introduced in 1998, the legislation is regularly evaluated.

“Many sex workers have spoken out about how laws likes this hurt them,” she said. “An evaluation would ensure responsible legislating on a complex issue.”

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