Prostitution – A plea for sanity.

There are three views on prostitution. One variation covers – Ban it, make
it a criminal offense, – criminalise the users and providers, jail them – A second view is indifferent – not bothered what happens, not involved, no interest and a third view , which I endorse is that it is no business of others what arrangements adults make in private regarding the uses of their sexual organs. If the matter is commercial, then there is the issue of VAT, income tax and regulation. The rights of sex workers should be respected. As far as I am concerned, these people are still people and are not “low life”, “filth”, “fallen women”, “harlots” etc. The women are somebody’s wife, sister, daughter or pal. It is a choice which in many cases seems the easiest way to make money for the desperate or relatively easy money for those either underpaid and struggling or the merely greedy.

But to conflate prostitution with drug addiction, alcoholism and social deprivation or people trafficing is an ideological position usually driven by religious or societal conditioning. Those unfortunates do not represent the position of every sex worker. What should remain illegal is any compulsion, psychological or physical abuse. Public health dictates that care should be taken to limit the spread of diseases. Condom use, and safe sex practises must be encouraged. Psychological and practical support should be given to sex workers by the health and social services. Prostitution should be licenced and brothels or areas of activity should be incorporated into the City Development Plan after decriminalisation. Planning permissions should be used to strictly limit the areas of operation and Garda Clearance should be mandatory for all brothel operators. Independent sex workers are entitled to Garda protection from any violent threats which apparently are common. It is better and safer for the sex workers if their jobs are legalised. Then they could feel free to report assault, rapes and violence which are an obvious occupational hazard at present.

I believe that the ban and the present criminal proscription puts lives at

Does the ban on prostitution infringe on the civil liberties of the sex workers? Yes it does. Should the issue be referred to the European Court of Justice? Yes because, I believe the ban would be struck down.

If I am ever Minister for Justice, I will try to reform the law in this area but don’t hold your breath on that eventuality! Enda is unlikely to agree with me. He will be Taoiseach. However, a free vote should be the norm in the Dáil for such issues. That should be part of the reform of the political system of hiding behind the party whip.

The letter below was published last week in the Irish Times.

Ban on prostitution

Madam, – Conor Lally’s excellent article (Weekend Review, May 8th), raises
many issues about the trafficking of women into brothels in Ireland.

  1. The level of violence used.
  2. The lack of any supports for the women involved.
  3. The violation of basic human rights.

Due to the clandestine nature of prostitution, and its illegal status, the men and women who work as voluntary sex workers receive no protection from the Irish State. They are denied basic human and labour rights.

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland was officially launched last November in
response to injustices to sex workers.

We would reiterate our mission statement about our fundamental opposition to trafficking for the purposes of prostitution of women and children and we are supportive of any effort to combat trafficking. That said, we make a clear distinction between sex work migrants who come to Ireland to work and victims of trafficking.

Trafficking should not be conflated with prostitution as people are trafficked into many industries, and prostitution exists regardless of trafficking. The current Irish legal context and criminalised environment gives a carte blanche to criminal gangs to control prostitution.

By criminalising the actions of consenting adult men and women, these allies in the fight against trafficking are lost. In countries where sex work has been decriminalised, it is the clients and fellow sex workers who frequently aid the police in tackling trafficking.

As long as the Irish State buries its head in the sand and fails to regulate and control prostitution, such practices will continue. –

Yours, etc,



Sex Workers Alliance Ireland,

Capel Street,

Dublin 1.