Sex for sale

THE GOVERNMENT is considering radical new criminal legislation that would shift the Garda’s approach to prostitution by making it illegal for a man to buy sex but not for a woman to sell it.

The legislation would put the Garda’s emphasis on prosecuting male clients rather than targeting women working as prostitutes. Similar laws introduced in Sweden that target male clients and have halved street prostitution over 10 years. The Swedish legislation bans the purchase of sex by men but not the sale of sex by women, thus putting male clients at the centre of criminality around prostitution.ent of Justice.

Sweden became the first European state to ban the sale of sex in 1999. Similar legislation has since been introduced in Norway and Iceland. If the same laws were introduced here, it is hoped the move would reduce the demand for sex from men because they would be more fearful of being caught.

At present the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 makes it a criminal offence to solicit on the street or any other public place for the purposes of prostitution. A woman working as a prostitute can be prosecuted, as can a man trying to buy sex or a third party such as a pimp.

However, it is not a criminal offence to buy or sell sex in the Republic.

This anomaly makes it difficult for the Garda to prosecute women’s clients unless they are caught on the street.

A huge portion of the Republic’s prostitution trade is conducted behind closed doors in apartments run as brothels that are advertised online as escort services.

It is almost impossible for gardaí to prosecute those involved in that end of the trade because of its covert nature.

However, a new law introducing a clear ban on the purchase of sex would greatly aid the Garda in that regard. It would mean any evidence, such as telephone records, that emerged linking a client to a prostitute or a brothel could be used to prosecute.

Men would no longer have to be caught soliciting or kerb crawling. Women could still be prosecuted for soliciting but not for the sale of sex.

Conor Lally wrote some of this in the Irish Times report.

Comment: This proposed law is off target. Why would the government want to ban the purchase of sex by citizens from willing sellers provided the whole transaction is completed in private. The question of public health from sexually trasmitted diseases arises but this can be catered for in other ways as it is at present. The planning laws can be used to deal with brothels in apartments as can the tax laws and revenue audits. In short, commercial sex should be licenced and taxed and not subject to Scandinavian-style censorious hypocrisy.

I am not aware that street prostitution is a huge problem nationwide that requires a change in the law. This proposed new law is also discriminatory on the grounds of sex.