Tag Archives: Wendy Lyon

Director of Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) Kate McGrew (middle) at a sex workers conference in Stockhom, Sweden this afternoon

This afternoon.

In Stockholm, Sweden.

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSWE) is hosting a conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Swedish Model.

Irish solicitor Wendy Lyon is live-tweeting from the conference, entitled Sex Work, Human Rights And Health: Assessing 20 Years Of Swedish Model, including a contribution from the director of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland Kate McGrew.

From her tweetz:

Earlier, Wendy tweeted the contribution from Adeline Berry

Follow Wendy here

Meanwhile…

Yesterday, in Stockholm…

Ms McGrew addressed a crowd gathered for the first ever sex worker rights protest in Stockholm, during which they called for an end to the Swedish Model.

Related: No council for (some) women: the NWCI and the silencing of sex workers (Wendy Lyon, Feminist Ire)

Previously: Let’s Talk About Sex Work

 

Independent TD Noel Grealish

This morning in today’s Irish Times.

Solicitor and partner at Abbey Law Wendy Lyon has dissected Independent TD Noel Grealish’s claims about asylum seekers before writing:

If there is to be a debate on how Ireland responds to its international obligations towards people seeking protection, our politicians and media have a duty to ensure it takes place in a context where claims like these will be fact-checked and falsehoods exposed.

It is not enough to merely report what Noel Grealish says or ask him to “clarify” his comments – it must be shown that he is wrong.

In fairness.

Noel Grealish’s views of asylum seekers are based on myth (Wendy Lyon, The Irish Times)

Rollingnews

Senator Ivana Bacik

Brian Dineen takes issue with Mia de Faoite’s article supporting the 2017 Irish law criminalising the purchase of sex.

However, he has missed her crucial point about decriminalisation of the (mostly women) sellers of sex.

It is true that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 did not repeal some ancillary offences that can criminalise those engaged in organised prostitution or in pimping, such as the offences of brothel-keeping or of living off the earnings of a prostitute.

Most rational people would agree that these clearly exploitative behaviours should remain criminal offences.

But the 2017 Act did repeal the critical provision in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 under which many individual women had been prosecuted for the offence of offering their services as a prostitute in a street or public place.

This change has effectively decriminalised the practice of selling sex in public, as we suggested on the Oireachtas Justice Committee which recommended the introduction of the 2017 law.

Mr Dineen also suggests that the criminalisation of the (almost invariably) men who buy sex has led to increased violence against women engaged in prostitution.

However, there is no evidence for this assertion.

Indeed, on the Oireachtas Justice Committee we heard strong evidence from Sweden that criminalising buyers can have a significant effect on reducing demand for prostitution and thereby reducing the harms caused to women through prostitution.

Mia de Faoite and others have spoken powerfully from their own personal experience about these harms, and about the grim reality of selling sex; it is inherently dangerous.

That is why, as legislators, we sought to tackle harm through reducing demand.

Our law, like the 1999 Swedish law, is also premised upon the core principle of equality.

Laws that facilitate the purchase of sex undermine women’s equality by enabling men to buy sexual consent.

But if consent is bought, it is not freely chosen. Those who take issue with our 2017 law tend to overlook that reality.

Senator Ivana Bacik,
Seanad Éireann,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

Criminalising the purchase of sex (Irish Times letters page)

Alternatively…

Meanwhile…

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland tweetz:

We are looking for sex workers to participate in a study into the lived experiences of sex workers in the Republic of Ireland in relation to prostitution law, conducted by SWAI.

Please email linda@swai.eu if you are interested in talking to us

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland

Previously: “It Is An Extremely Dangerous Piece Of Legislation”

The Turn Off The Red Light campaign in 2012 calling for criminalising the purchase of sex

Last Friday, the Leinster Leader newspaper reported that two female sex workers, one of whom is pregnant, had been jailed for nine months by Judge Desmond Zaidan at Naas District Court the previous day.

They had been charged with keeping or running a brothel – an offence under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 which was maintained when the Act was amended in 2017, despite the then Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald being called on by several politicians to remove it.

The newspaper reported that the court heard gardai raided the Newbridge apartment in which the women lived last November after it had been under surveillance for “some time”.

In a previous court appearance, the court heard the raid was part of An Garda Siochána’s Operation Quest.

There were no clients at the property when the house was raided.

The newspaper reported:

No significant money was found at the scene either.

Was business that bad?” Judge Desmond Zaidan asked.

“It was early in the night,” Sgt Jacob told the court.

…Their solicitor told the court that the women hope to return to their native Romania once the trial is concluded and to avoid bringing any embarrassment to their families. And gardai were satisfied that this was the case.

Their solicitor said that the women had a sum of money available that could be paid to a charity.

But Judge Desmond Zaidan was not inclined to give them this opportunity. “They weren’t forced into this position.”

The newspaper reported that the woman who is pregnant has lodged an appeal and has been released on bail.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 was put forward to reform Ireland’s laws regarding prostitution and it was signed into law in 2017.

In relation to the law on brothel keeping, a debate in the Dáil in November 2016 heard Green Party TD Catherine Martin say:

“What the Government is proposing is to criminalise the buyer and remove one of the criminal sanctions against solicitation but also to create a new solicitation crime and leave brothel keeping as a criminal act. The Nordic approach has received a significant level of criticism, particularly when It comes to the health and the safety of sex workers.

“Significant questions remain about the Nordic model. The Green Party’s key concern with it is that a sufficient evaluation has not been carried out upfront to show whether the changes brought in had any impact on the health and well being of sex workers. Stories are emerging of sex workers driven further underground and, therefore, out of safety in order to protect the identities of their clients. The latter means that they place themselves at even greater risk.

“The UK is currently revisiting its approach. The select Home Affairs Committee has said that the Home Office should immediately introduce legislation to allow for solicitation by sex workers and to change brothel-keeping laws to allow workers share premises so that they are safer.”

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall said:

When two or more prostitutes choose to work from the same location for safety, they should not be prosecuted for brothel keeping unless there is clear evidence that one is profiting from the work of others.

“As the law still stands, if two prostitutes work together, they can be accused of brothel-keeping. Are we going to force a situation where women working in the sex trade will be forced to work alone in order to get around this issue and to avoid prosecution under this legislation, obviously putting themselves at further risk? There are significant issues here.”

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said:

We will also table an amendment to exclude the criminalisation of two women working together in a brothel, not pimping, one not benefiting from the proceeds of the earnings of the other. Sex workers should not be subject to harassment and prosecution and it is utterly backward that the Tánaiste has not taken these amendments on board.”

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said:

“The work by the barrister, Michael Lynn, and commissioned by Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, SWAI, is an incredibly well-grounded, academic and research-based piece of work in this area. He evolved into a position of coming to the conclusion that the Bill would violate the human rights of sex workers.

“His key points on that were, first, the lack of assessment of the real impact of the Swedish model, the fact that the penalties against brothel keeping and so on are likely to contravene the human rights of sex workers, and he was very critical of the fact that there is no review in the legislation.”

In December 2016, Ms Fitzgerald told the Select Committee on Justice and Equality debate, when the 2015 Bill was at committee stage:

“The effect of the amendments, in reality, would be to decriminalise brothels in certain circumstances. I am concerned that decriminalisation of brothel-keeping would create a legal loophole that would be ripe for exploitation by the organised crime gangs involved in the trafficking and exploitation of women involved in prostitution.

“Women would come under pressure to claim that they were working independently when that was not the case and the Garda would be limited in the actions it could take to close brothels and disrupt the activities of pimps and criminal gangs.”

Further to this…

Solicitor Wendy Lyon has tweeted her thoughts…

Related: Brothel laws criminalising sex workers: a feature, not a bug (Wendy Lyon, Feminist Ire)

Previously: A ‘Mass Surveillance On Sex Workers’? (April 2019)

Stopping At Red (September 2012)

Turn Off The Red, Blue And White Light (November 2013)

“Prostitution Is Messy, It’s Regrettable But It’s A Fact Of Life” (November 2014)

Hoor We To Judge? (April 2017)

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 10.57.52C8B0wrTXgAEu2jG

From top: Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; David Costello, head of the International Protection Office; and Jose Carreira, executive director of the European Asylum Support Office; a section of a questionnaire sent out to asylum seekers in Ireland

You’ll recall how the International Protection Act came into effect on December 31, 2016, allowing for new streamlined “single application” procedure for asylum seekers seeking protection in Ireland.

In February, 60-page questionnaires were sent to some 3,000 asylum seekers outlining a specific deadline for their return (see above).

After concerns were raised, the Department of Justice later stated:

“As is clearly stated on the form, applicants are requested to respond within 20 working days, if possible.”

Last week, asylum seekers addressed members of the Oireachtas to explain that the deadline caused great confusion and panic among asylum seekers.

Further to this…

Dublin solicitor Wendy Lyon writes:

[Last night] I attended a briefing for practitioners by David Costello, head of the International Protection Office, on the new procedures. On the subject of the 20-day deadline he repeated the now standard line that this was never a hard deadline and that all flexibility was being shown.

At the Q&A I read out the part of the questionnaire in the attached photo, with the intention of pointing out that it was not unreasonable for asylum seekers to think they really needed to meet the deadline. I didn’t even get that far because he immediately accused me of selectively quoting and omitting the part that said ‘if possible’. I said there was no part of this section of the questionnaire that said ‘if possible’. He insisted I was wrong.

I invited him to read the part in my photograph. He said ‘I didn’t need to read it, I wrote it.’ He shouted that it was unprofessional of me to even bring this up. And then he refused to discuss the matter any further.

Wendy Lyon

Questionnaires cause ‘distress’ for people in direct provision (Kitty Holland, Irish Times, February 20, 2017)

Thanks Mark Malone