‘We Do It Out Of Desperation’



A direct provision accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Co. Westmeath

Brian O’Connell was on the Today With Seán O’Rourke show this morning talking about how some female asylum seekers – some as young as 18 or 19 and who had just completed their Leaving Certificate – are selling themselves for sex.

He did not report anyone’s name or give any location as to where this is taking place.

Some of the women are in the Direct Provision system for five, six or seven years, and did not take part in prostitution before they came to Ireland.

He said the women, who receive €19.10 from the State a week, are not allowed work or go to college, usually earn €20 or €50 for sex.

Mr O’Connell said it is mostly young single mothers who are engaging in prostitution but he said there are some married women who do this without their husband’s knowledge.

He said men usually approach the women outside the centre, on the street, with one woman telling him she was approached at the Post Office. The men also come to the direct provision centres, and don’t usually find any difficulty entering the premises, or they park outside the centres and the women go out to meet them.

Mr O’Connell spoke to one young mother about the first time she received money for sex. She was in a car on a street.

She told him:

“In myself, I had no choice, also because I know that I cannot afford anything. So I just had to do it as well.”

The woman, who is now living in her third Direct Provision centre, said it is her understanding that there are women at all the centres she has lived in taking part in prostitution.

Another mother told Mr O’Connell:

“Most of us engage ourselves in prostitution because we have no choice. Some women they are married, they are living with their husbands but they do it because they have no choice. Most people I know, a lot of people, they engage…I know most girls, some of them, they finished the Leaving Cert last year or 2012, they are there, they have nothing to do. Poor girls, they have to engage themselves into prostitution.”

“It’s not organised. It’s just, I think we do it out of desperation and some people also, they know that we are in that situation, we are in Direct Provision, they just take us for granted. They just, like where I live, it’s  along the road, people come, they park their cars outside there, we are just coming out, they’re like ‘how much?’. It’s like we have no dignity. Like we have lost ourselves in almost everything.”

Mr O’Connell also visited two centres and spoke to about a dozen male and female residents and each of them verified, independently, the fact that some women were getting paid for sex.

One woman, who spoke to Mr O’Connell along with her husband – and who does not take part in prostitution – said she believed the women sold themselves for sex because they only earn €19.10 a week. She said she herself has been stopped on the road by white men who ask her, ‘How much are you?’.

Later, Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc Ireland, told the show that, from the group’s experience, asylum seeking women in Direct Provision centres across Ireland are engaging in prostitution to supplement the €19.10 they get a week.

Listen back here

Previously: Why All The Secrecy?

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42 thoughts on “‘We Do It Out Of Desperation’

  1. Planet of the Missing Biros

    In the 1950s and 1960s, smug holy middle class Ireland all ganged together to hate single mothers and the poorer in society. They ignored the treatment of them at the hands of ‘Christians’. It was really convenient not having to deal with it.

    Now, smug (and still holy) middle class Ireland, led by Fine Gael still hate the poorer of course but now they can also hate asylum seekers and most non-white immigrants who aren’t doctors or something ‘respectable’.

    Oh and Travellers of course, let’s not forget our first ever marginalised and hated group of non-conformists.

    1. Kill The Poor

      While I agree with alot of the above, Travellers have SO SO much more rights than asylum seekers.

      I think lumping Travellers in with the asylum seekers is disingenuous and getting away from the shocking point of that article.

      1. Planet of the Missing Biros

        “Travellers have SO SO much more rights than asylum seekers”

        Well…… of course they do. They’re Irish.

    2. smoothlikemurphys


      I’m going to stop paying tax and tell everyone i’m a ‘non-conformist’. I wonder how that will turn out?

      1. Planet of the Missing Biros

        I’m referring to their travelling and partially nomadic existence.

        I know lots of men in big houses in Ballsbridge who don’t pay their taxes and it adds up to multiples of what Travellers don’t pay.

        1. Kill The Poor

          As we’re dealing in generalisations here do these ‘lots of men in big houses in Ballsbridge’
          rob and terrorise as many pensioners living alone in rural ireland ?

  2. Planet of the Missing Biros

    And lots of new posts in rapid succession after this one guarantees people will pass over it.

      1. peckerhead

        I believe they’re proposing to raise it to €19.16 in light of the forthcoming centenary celebrations.

    1. realPolithicks

      Agree 100%. What a kip Ireland is really, it likes to portray this image of the hundred thousand welcomes and yet if you scratch the surface this is the kind of thing that goes on, on a daily basis.

  3. Sycamoreal

    €19.10 is welfare and not earnings. they are not at liberty to work here due to their status.
    and yes the non conformists find ways and means

  4. Not Rob Heffernan

    A traveller, a Roma gypsy and an African asylum seeker walk into a bar. What a wonderful example of multiculturalism.

    Ship ’em in, like.

    We’re not the best looking nationality to put it mildly. Could do with shaking up the gene pool, like.

  5. tomkildare

    The real story here is quicken up process by taking away appeals process. Stop letting them appealing decisions and then re appeal to a higher court. Or have an a appeals board and there decision is final one month after there original decision has been made. if yes sort them out, with rent allowance and dole and if no on the plane the following day!!!!!!!!!

    1. Spartacus

      Wouldn’t letting “them” take up employment be a better outcome? Why do you automatically assume that “they” will want or need dole and rent allowance?

      Do you know how the system works currently? Do you know that asylum seekers must first apply for refugee status and be refused before their claim for asylum will be considered?

    2. scottser

      ah tom, if only they’d stop having kids while they’re here then your plan would be perfect. what a shame they’re not forced to take birth control eh?

    3. SOMK


      So the the REAL STORY isn’t the systematic inhuman treatment, abuse, enforced prostituion, racist indifference of the political class? Phew! Because boy oh boy, was that sh*t depressing my balls off!

      Love the solution too, let’s take away those pesky legal rights, sure they only end up using them!

      I like the appeals board idea too, but to me it just strikes of more bureaucracy, for one why should it take up a whole month of valuable white Irish people time? I think they should just set up a facebook page, each refugee gets to put up one post telling their story, it could be a tragic story of death, starvation, rape and genital mutilation, or a funny rap dance video, the ones with the most ‘likes’ get to stay and the ones with the fewest get put on a plane by a Garda instructed to read out the most abusive comments (so they get the message), you could sort that out in a day and the whole thing could be run by two transition year students on a departmental jobsbridge.

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