Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Press release - Sex Workers Alliance Ireland. 25/11/2014

Proposed Law Criminalising Buyers of Sex Extremely Detrimental to Safety of Sex Workers, says Sex Workers Alliance Ireland

DUBLIN, Ireland; 25 November, 2014: Sex Workers Alliance Ireland is extremely concerned about legislation that would criminalise the purchase of sex, proposed today by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. This law is short-sighted and ignores the severe negative impacts it would have on the safety and health of sex workers, and the increased stigamtisation it would bring. Research from Queen's University Belfast has indicated that buyers will continue to purchase sex after the introduction of a similar law in Northern Ireland. There is also no evidence from Sweden, where this model originated, that its implementation has reduced demand.

The recent report from the government in Norway, where a similar law was introduced in 2009, shows that, since its implementation, sex workers are less likely to report crimes. The Norwegian inquiry highlights how sex workers have become more exposed to violence, because their main focus is to make clients feel safe, rather than focusing on their own safety. The Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman raised the fear that increased stigma is detrimental to health promotion and HIV-prevention, a claim backed by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, that discourages criminalisation for this reason. The prestigious medical journal The Lancet, in a series on HIV and sex work, also criticised the criminalisation of the client on health grounds.

The Minister needs to take a human rights approach and listen to current sex workers, who will have to live with this law. Sex Workers Alliance Ireland holds firm its belief that decriminalisation is the ideal model to keep sex workers safe.

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