A YWCA Ireland Position: Prostitution

Position Summary (Download the full position paper here: PositionPaperProstitution OCT2017)

“Prostitution and trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation disproportionately affects women and girls”.[1]  YWCA Ireland affirms the view that prostitution is violence against women and constitutes a fundamental violation of human rights. There is evidence to show that the majority of women become involved in prostitution due to constricting circumstances and very limited alternative choices. The majority of people who are trafficked for any purpose are poor, marginalised and extremely vulnerable, their impoverished backgrounds and lack of choice and power leads to their exploitation and abuse. We are deeply concerned by the disproportionate effect of prostitution on girls and young women. 68% of women in prostitution have been victims of rape and the vast majority experience other forms of sexual violence on an ongoing basis. In a 2008 study, 82% of the women interviewed who have been involved in prostitution had been physically assaulted, 83% threatened with a weapon and 84% had been homeless.[2] This research is consistent with numerous studies and personal testimonies outlining the ongoing occurrence of violence within prostitution. This violence manifests as physical, sexual and psychological. Prostitution also preys on the most vulnerable in society-the poor, those experiencing homelessness and living with drug addiction, and often times those who have already suffered some form of physical and sexual violence.

Driven by our belief that God did not create women to be subject to men’s violence YWCA Ireland has been an active partner of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign since 2012. This campaign, led by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, advocated for the implementation of the Nordic Model in the Republic of Ireland. This model decriminalises the sex worker and makes buying people for sex a criminal offence. Evidence supports that this model provides support services to help women involved in prostitution exit prostitution and reduces the demand that drives sex trafficking. Since the introduction of the Nordic Model in Sweden, the numbers of people being trafficked into Sweden have decreased, showing that Sweden is no longer an attractive country for human trafficking.

YWCA Ireland therefore welcomes the passage of the Sexual Offences Bill in February 2017 and enacted on March 26th 2017. We affirm the provisions detailed in this bill and are committed advocates for its effective implementation and thorough examination during the review period.

[1] Schulze, E., 2014. Sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality. STUDY. European Parliament.

[2] http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/PsySr%20-%20Human%20Traff%20and%20Pros.pdf

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