herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Outreach van helps women in city's 'red light' district

Ruhama outreach workers with new van
Ruhama outreach workers with new van
Sarah Benson, Ruhama

The country's sex trade, populated by mostly migrant women, has all but moved indoors, but Dublin's 'red light' district still exists and it is where Irish sex workers are found.

Yesterday, Dublin-based charity Ruhama, which works with women affected by prostitution, launched its fifth outreach van to help people involved in the on-street sex trade.

"The vast majority of the sex trade operates indoors but there is still a cohort of women on the streets," said Ruhama chief executive Sarah Benson.

"Indoors the vast majority are migrant women from most continents, Africa and South America, but on the streets there are about three nationalities and it's mostly Irish women."

Despite the rise in sex trafficking and the trade moving indoors, the charity still deals with up 80 women on the streets every year.

PL14415831Sarah Benson1 Ru.jpg
Sarah Benson, Ruhama

Sarah Benson

Women often access Ruhama after experiencing a violent assault. It also offers the women food, shelter and hot drinks.

"There won't be a deep chat, it's non-judgemental, but it can help as a place where you can be referred to our one-to-one services," Ms Benson told the Herald.

It goes out about four nights a week up until 4am. The van operates in the traditional 'red light' districts - Arbour Hill and Montpelier Hill on the northside, and along Baggot Street, on both sides of the canal and on to Wilton Terrace on the southside, explained Ms Benson.

"In the on-street side you do have a very high proportion of women dealing with complex drug addictions, or a partner has an addiction and they're out for a third party. Debt is another big factor," the Ruhama CEO said.

hnews@herald.ie

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