Tag Archives: prostitution

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:

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Have you got 10 seconds?

Tom Moylan writes:

Ruhama, a Dublin-based NGO, does on the ground outreach to victims of prostitution and other commercial forms of sexual exploitation.

They have made a video where they share the dream jobs of women accessing their services – business graduate, furniture restorer, baker… If their video gets enough votes they’ll win an extra €1,000 in funding.

If you have 10 seconds please vote for it here

Ruhama

norrisaideen

Senator David Norris brought up the subject of prostitution, Ruhama and the Turn Off The Red Light campaign in the chamber this morning.

He said:

I also want to take up this business of Ruhama, and Stop the Red Light (sic). It’s time this type of nonsense was really, honestly addressed….Despite the puppeteering going on by this middle class collection of ex-nuns and radical feminists…98% of the women for whom the voices are being articulated by the self-appointed group are opposed completely to it….the police are against it, by and large. Everybody realises that it’s going to be inoperable, ineffective and going to lead to serious risks to the lives and welfare of women and men involved in the sex business. So yes, prostitution is messy, it’s regrettable but it’s a fact of life.

Then Senator Aideen Hayden (Labour) interjects and it all kicks off.

We seem to have an issue with prostitution and no one’s buying it.

Earlier: Putting It Out To Tinder

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A Turn Off The Red Light Campaign billboard

Paid-for consensual sex is currently legal in Northern Ireland, though activities such as soliciting, brothel keeping and pimping are against the law.

Now paying for sex is to be banned after Stormont assembly members backed the move last night.

Fluffy Biscuits writes:

“As a person who strongly believes in the rights of workers, this is a blow to those who are engaged in legitimate sex work where they are no coerced. Women, men and kids will be trafficked into this but NI’s decision to criminalise the purchase of sex will drive the sex workers underground. A robust approach like that of New Zealand or Switzerland where they have a union, full health check ups and access to services like counselling etc. would ensure a better situation for all involved.
“The other thing about this is it reflects the deep catholic guilt we have about sex and the hang ups about our own bodies. Branches of feminism would call sex work oppressive, I’m on the other side of that fence, I take the feminist view that it’s allowing women the choice what to do with their own bodies, a mantra feminists have rightly said is a cornerstone to fighting male oppression.”

TDs must act swiftly as NI approves sex buyer laws (Immigrant Council of Ireland)

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

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Two hundred and thirty one phone cards belonging to an adult asylum seeker from West Africa. At the time the photograph was taken, the asylee had been waiting six years for their case to be dealt with. Every week, the asylee used half their €19.10 weekly stipend from the State to phone home

You may recall RTÉ’s Brian O’Connell’s reports on Today With Sean O’Rourke last week about how some asylee women – who are not allowed work – are engaging in prostitution to supplement the €19.10 they receive a week.

In some instances, some mothers said they are engaging in prostitution as a means to make life financially easier for their children.

After his reports, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she would be asking the Reception and Integration Agency – which oversees the Direct Provision system – for a report on the matter.

Further to this, Mr O’Connell tweeted:

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Hmmm.

Previously: ‘He Took Me Around Some Bushes’

“I Will Certainly Be Looking For A Report”

Pic: Rory O’Neill, via Asylum Archive

Screen-Shot-2014-09-05-at-11.05.41-1024x678A section from a ‘prayer flag’ found in The Old Convent direct provision centre in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, in 2010

Brian O’Connell continued his series on direct provision this morning, on RTÉ’s Today With Seán O’Rourke show. During his discussion with Mr O’Rourke, Mr O’Connell played another interview he had with a woman who has engaged in prostitution to supplement the €19.10 she gets from the State every week.

The interview started with the woman – whose name and place of residence was not reported – saying a girl approached her and told her how some Irish men would be “looking for black girls” and how “they offer you some money. I tried it once.”

Brian O’Connell: “Was it the case that a friend of yours referred that person to you?”

Woman: “She was with a man and most Irish men know, in the centres, I know I’ve met one who asked me ‘do you come from the centre up the hill?’ And I said, ‘yeah’. And he said, ‘well would you like come clean my house?’ And I said ‘yeah, that would be OK.’ And he came and met me next to the place and then he took me around some bushes and then he told me he just wanted to feel my body and paid me €10. Yeah.”

Brian O’Connell: “And how did you feel?”

Woman: “Worthless, worth €10, for someone to feel your body, that someone would just look at you and feel you’re worth €10, how shit would that be? When you do it, you don’t do it because you want to do it, because your body wants it. You do it to get a little bit of something. A little bit of money to help you. Not for yourself, for your son – maybe he needs to go to swimming classes, school trips are very expensive, yeah.”

O’Connell: “And these men that you’re meeting, are they married?”

Woman: “They are married, of course they’re married, cause when they call you in the evenings, they ask you not to call them.”

O’Connell: “Is it fair to say that you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t in the [direct provision] system?”

Woman: “I don’t think I’d be doing that because I envisioned a life of freedom, going to school, get a job, contribute to the economy. You know, everyone has dreams in life and you don’t dream of selling your body, you don’t do that.”

O’Connell: “Do the men call to the centre?”

Woman: “They call outside the centre.”

O’Connell: “So they don’t go inside the centre?”

Woman: “No they don’t.”

O’Connell: “Do you think if asylum seekers, like yourself, were able to work, that it would have a huge impact on your lives?”

Woman: “If you’re given the right to work, why won’t you work and feed your kids? Why won’t you work and look after yourself? You don’t want to sponge of someone. I [inaudible] one  Irishman and he called me a parasite.”

O’Connell: “Can you tell me a little bit about the rejection?”

Woman: “He was calling me names, n*gger, bitch, whore, and I didn’t like that. And then I told him I don’t like such names. He say, ‘oh, parasite, you sponge off the country’. He called me so many names, yeah.”

O’Connell: “When I was at the centre a couple of nights ago, I think I might have seen you leave.”

Woman: “Yeah.”

O’Connell: “Can you tell me where you were going?”

Woman: “I was going to meet one of the men. Just for 20 minutes.”

O’Connell: “And was there money involved?”

Woman: “Of course.”

O’Connell: “Do you mind me asking how much?”

Woman: “Just €30 because they often tell you, it’s in the car. It’s not in a hotel, it’s not in a bed, so €30, €40.”

O’Connell: “It seems surprising to a lot of people that it took this long for women like yourself to tell your story and  the minister [for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald] that media reports could further stereotype you.”

Woman: “When someone comes out, they give you a voice to come out too because, before that, no one cared, no one really cares what we go through.”

Listen back here

Pic: Asylum Archive

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Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald at a press conference in Government Buildings yesterday, launching reform of student immigration and education

That should do it.

You may recall yesterday’s post concerning RTÉ reporter Brian O’Connell’s research on how some female asylum seekers – some aged 18 – are engaging in prostitution to supplement the weekly €19.10 they receive from the State.

Yesterday afternoon, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was speaking at a press conference to launch new regulations for English language schools, when she was asked about Mr O’Connell’s report.

She told reporters she will be asking the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) – which oversees the Direct Provision system – for a report on the matter, adding:

We have no reports in relation to that, to date, but I will certainly be asking for a report and I would ask that anyone with information to make it available to the Gardaí.”

However, on this morning’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Mr O’Connell returned to the subject and said in 2007 and 2008, Ruhama did send a report to the Department of Justice – highlighting the issue of vulnerable women living in Direct Provision centres or hostels.

Mr O’Connell said the report states:

“On a practical level, we believe these hostels are not appropriate for this vulnerable target group. We have been advised by the women we work with, by managers of these hostels and by other service providers, throughout the country, that the hostels have become targets for pimps and other opportunists who seek to exploit the women through prostitution, recognising their poverty and vulnerability.”

Also in response to Mr O’Connell’s report yesterday, Minister Fitzgerald said:

I would be concerned as well about any stereotyping that might take place in relation to those women in any media reports that are being made in relation to the issue because that’s obviously something of huge concern. We are talking about a vulnerable group of women and I certainly don’t want to see them further stigmatised.”

However, this morning, Mr O’Connell told the Today with Seán O’Rourke show:

“A lot of people heard anecdotally this was happening. This was the first time women have come forward and, if you like, taken ownership of their own story, Seán. The women wanted their stories to be told, they wanted to realities of their situation to be out there and they wanted to give a voice to what was happening to them on a daily basis.”

Listen back to this morning’s show in full here

Previously: ‘We Do It Out Of Desperation’

Why All The Secrecy?

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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?

90300676 Former US President Jimmy Carter

Former US president Jimmy Carter has called on Ireland to take a lead in introducing legislation to target the buyers of sex.

In letters to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and all members of the Oireachtas, Mr Carter urged politicians to act with a “sense of urgency” to protect prostituted women and girls. In the letters, Mr Carter acknowledges the progress being made in Ireland towards passing legislation that would target the buyers of sex.

Ireland urged to take lead to target buyers of sex (RTÉ News)

Alternatively..

Both The Lancet and The Economist have called for prostitution to be decriminalised:

Sweden’s avowed aim is to wipe out prostitution by eliminating demand. But the sex trade will always exist—and the new approach has done nothing to cut the harms associated with it. Street prostitution declined after the law was introduced but soon increased again. When Rhode Island unintentionally decriminalised indoor prostitution between 2003 and 2009 the state saw a steep decline in reported rapes and cases of gonorrhoea. Governments should focus on deterring and punishing such crimes [slavery and child prostituition] and leave consenting adults who wish to buy and sell sex to do so safely and privately online.

A personal choice (Josie Delap, The Economist)

The Lancet: HIV and sex workers

Previously: You Ain’t Seen Novena Yet

Hoor We To Judge?

Turn Off The Red White And Blue Light

Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland