September 22, 2022

[ad_1]

Some Garda members have sought sexual services from sex workers despite knowing it was a crime to do so, according to a University of Limerick study.

The report, I Must Be Some Person: Accounts from Street Sex Workers in Ireland, says 2017 legislation criminalising the purchase of sex fails to make a distinction between “voluntary and consensual” sex work and human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

This, it says, stigmatises sex workers and exposes them to greater danger than they had been in before its enactment.

The study, funded by the Department of Justice, draws on 50 interviews with 25 sex workers – 15 based in Dublin and 10 in Limerick – from between October 2020 and January of last year.

It was conducted against the background of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which criminalises the purchase of sex, decriminalises the sale of sex, and significantly increases penalties for “brothel keeping”, where two or more sex workers are operating under one roof.

“While the legislation is supposed to prevent exploitation and sex trafficking of vulnerable people, according to our sample, it has drastically marginalised already vulnerable populations and has made the lives of street sex workers in urban areas even harder,” says the report.

The ongoing stigmatisation of sex work “translates directly into disruptive activities that contribute to incidents of violence against sex workers, as well as enabling very serious incidents of misconduct, including sexual assault and verbal abuse by gardaí”.

The report continues: “Five participants in our sample of 25 disclosed that they had been sexually exploited by gardaí. Beyond sexual exploitation cases, some other participants . . . reported being approached by An Garda Síochána officers who were looking to buy sexual services from our participants.

“According to 2017 legislation that criminalises the purchase of sex or sexual services, those officers were knowingly committing a crime. Our data also documented widespread incidents of gardaí harassing and verbally abusing street sex workers.”

A Garda spokesman said on Wednesday that the force “does not comment on unpublished reports”.

“An Garda Síochána proactively engages with individuals working in the sex trade via welfare checks. These welfare checks with individuals working in the sex trade are to ensure they are safe and to offer safety advice,” he said.

“During these welfare visits, the sex workers are offered available state services, such as the woman’s health service attached to the HSE and in some cases, sex workers are offered supports provided by Ruhama and other NGOs. A further purpose of these welfare checks is to identify any people who are being exploited or coerced in the sex trade.

“Gardaí do not engage with third parties in respect of these welfare checks, nor does An Garda Síochána assist or participate in evictions of sex workers, in any form.”

The report says increased penalties for “brothel keeping” have removed the ability of sex workers to “work together” in twos and threes in a single premises to ensure their safety. This was “the most frequently mentioned issue” among interviewees, the report says.

Among the recommendations are the decriminalisation of the purchase of sex; the establishment of the right to work together; and legislation distinguishing between voluntary sex work and sexual exploitation/sex trafficking.

[ad_2]

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.