“It Is An Extremely Dangerous Piece Of Legislation”

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From top: Senator David Norris and Senator Ivana Bacik

On Tuesday.

During Order of Business in the Seanad.

Senators Ivana Bacik and David Norris commented on reports from earlier this week about a 65-year-old Meath man who was the first person to be convicted under a new law which criminalises the purchase of sex from a sex worker.

Senator Bacik welcomed the conviction, Senator Norris didn’t.

From their contributions to the Seanad…

Ivana Bacik: “I express my satisfaction on seeing the first conviction reported today under the Swedish or Nordic model. My dear friend and colleague, Senator Norris, will not agree with me.”

David Norris: “I do not.”

Bacik:We are seeing the new law on prostitution being enforced and coming into effect.”

Norris:It is a disgrace.”

Bacik: “I commend gardaí for their work on it.”

Norris: “It is utter hypocrisy.”

Later

Norris: “I completely disagree with my colleague, Senator Bacik. I do not how anybody can be pleased about the prospect of a lonely 65-year-old man, coming from a deprived area of Dublin, being named and fined in court. It seems to me that this is rank and smug hypocrisy.

“I remember during the debate here, it flew in the face of all the academic research produced by Queen’s University, Belfast, which I put on the record. I urge anybody who wants to see that research and to know the truth about this matter to read the debate where I put these facts on the record.

Bacik: “Highly contested.”

Norris: “What was highly contested was the rubbish the Senator produced from Sweden.”

Separately.

Following the conviction, the Sex Workers’ Alliance Ireland group tweeted its thoughts on the matter – and highlighted that one implication of the new law is that it’s forcing sex workers to work alone, thus increasing their vulnerability:

17 thoughts on ““It Is An Extremely Dangerous Piece Of Legislation”

  1. Fact Checker

    I am very conflicted about prostitution. On the one hand a lot of it mainly involves consenting adults doing things privately. There is no human society that has ever gotten rid of it.

    On the other hand prostitution inevitably involves some aspect of psychological abuse, violence and sexual assault against some s€x workers.

    There are many views on the topic, and the evidence tends to follow the opinion, not the other way around.

    Criminal law does not punish or name s€x workers, and I think this is a good thing. However there are probably tens of thousands of Irish men who use prostitution every year. It seems HUGELY disproportionate that one or two will be singled out for conviction or public shaming like this.

    The law surrounding brothel-keeping is also problematic. There are several convictions a year, with brothel-keepers being named and shamed. I am not sure that this is much of a good thing either. S€x work in brothels involves the risk of physical and psychological harm I’ve outlined above, but it is demonstrably safer than street work.

    1. phil

      Maybe the individual does not feel shamed , who knows…

      Ruhama were all over this , pushing for the law over and over again, and like when have the sisters of charity ever been on the wrong side of any issue ?

      1. bisted

        …I remember being in a taxi once and a …call came over for someone to pick up the sisters of charity from a certain hotel…when the driver stopped laughing the he told me that it was a code for sex workers…

      1. Fact Checker

        I think you’ve proved we can.

        I didn’t want to take the risk of being put on Santa’s naughty list….

  2. Dr.Fart MD

    so theyll look towards a scandinavian model for this, but ignore other scandinavian policy which works like.. how to run a fuppin government to best serve the public? yea, theyre not so interested in that.

    1. Fact Checker

      Scandanavia is generally only a cheap Ryanair flight away from Germany, where prostitution is legal and large brothels are common.

      Actually, some to think of it, so is Ireland.

  3. Eoin

    “Bryan Mason of Moatlands, Ratoath was fined €200 at Dublin District Court “ reports the Irish Times on the link embedded above by Bodger.

    Bryan Mason is a lucky man. If the prostitute had been trafficked, he would have faced a 5-year stretch in prison. Trafficked women are raped or sexually assaulted every time they are forced to service someone paying them. I wonder what steps Bryan took to establish whether or not the woman he paid was trafficked or not?

    Bryan lives in a small village in county Meath. Now, he’s famous. He’d be even more famous if any of our fearless media had been outside the Dublin District Court on Monday last to take his picture. I bet if he was a water protester, his mug would have been plastered all over the place.

    The prostitutes’ group conflate two issues in their statement. Buying sex is now illegal and it doesn’t make any difference whether the prostitute is operating alone or as a group.

    A group of prostitutes is more likely to include or comprise trafficked women, and is more likely than not, to be an organised crime enterprise.

    Why is there now a prostitutes’ group operating in Ireland at all if buying sex is now illegal? What next, a subgroup in Retail Excellence Ireland which looks out for the interests of the crack cocaine brigade?

    1. Fact Checker

      I defy any customer, of any service, to prove conclusively that a provider has or has not been trafficked.

      1. Eoin

        Big diff between legally paying wee Huong at the Vietnamese nail bar a tenner to declaw you and illegally paying Anna, the Moldovan (or rather the swarthy no-neck in the black leather jacket angrily smoking a cigarette in the kitchen), €200 for her time, anal-without.

    2. ZeligIsJaded

      “Why is there now a prostitutes’ group operating in Ireland at all if buying sex is now illegal? What next, a subgroup in Retail Excellence Ireland which looks out for the interests of the crack cocaine brigade?”

      Straight from the ‘don’t do drugs’ school of public policy!

    3. Cian

      “A group of prostitutes is more likely to include or comprise trafficked women, and is more likely than not, to be an organised crime enterprise. ”

      Possibly, but due to two factors:
      1. if someone is trafficking, then they might as well do it in bulk and make a business out of it. They are less worried about breaking the brothel laws then the human trafficking ones.
      2. if a woman is doing it of her own violation, then the laws (as they stand) force her to work alone.

      So the law punishes the women who choose prostitution, and is ignored by the traffickers/brother keepers.

  4. francis O Toole

    The Nordic model doesn’t offer an “ethical” framework for criminalization, because ethical criminalization just doesn’t exist. Operating under the shadows of illegality, sex workers are currently denied basic workers’ rights—and this definitely won’t stop, even if the weight of persecution falls on the person buying rather than selling.

    Moreover, arguments that the Nordic model combats sexual exploitation could not be further from the mark. Reasoning such as this rests on the dangerous conflation of sex trafficking and consensual sex work, one which leads to paternalistic policing rather than any effective measures to help trafficking victims. Legislative frameworks such as these do little to prevent trafficking given that they in no way constitute an attack on organized crime. Ultimately all that it does is make working conditions considerably less safe.

    It’s time to wake up to the fact that the Nordic model is nothing more than another moralistic effort to clamp down on sex workers’ livelihoods. If legislators truly want to make escorts safe, they need to avoid all forms of criminalization and ultimately recognize sex work as a valid form of work. We need to stop tinkering with a broken system and start taking decisive action. It is vital that we push for the only solution to improve the lives of sex workers: complete decriminalization.

    Proponents of end demand” approach generally, also fail to note the means by which the Swedish police have enforced this model. They have employed overly invasive methods of surveillance towards sex workers, even observing them engage in sex with clients before arresting the client and insisting that the sex worker accompany them to the police station as a “witness,” only to be subjected to humiliating strip searches and questioning, and often returning home to find that their landlords have been threatened with pimping or brothel-keeping charges if the sex worker is not immediately evicted. While Sweden is touted as a bastion of human rights progress, including its humane police and prison practices, their stigmatization and harassment of sex workers is a disturbing departure from this.

    For these and other reasons, the Swedish model is rejected by groups such as the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Freedom Network USA, Anti-Slavery International, the World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International to name but a few. These groups and many others embrace a harm-reduction model which empowers sex workers to assure their own safety, well-being and dignity. This model, employed in New Zealand and the Australian state of New South Wales, calls for full decriminalization of all aspects of voluntary adult commercial sex, combined with comprehensive social support services. Full decriminalization has been shown to increase sex worker safety, transform the relationship between sex workers and law enforcement from adversarial to collaborative, and without any measurable increase in the number of providers or clients.

  5. Truth in the News

    Has Bacik taken the role of the late Frank Duff and the Legion Of Mary
    while they might have shut down “Monto” they certainly did not eliminate
    prostitution and never will irrespective of the laws in the land.
    Actually the man fined should be crowd funded to appeal the conviction.

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