herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Politicians join forces to call for tough sex laws

Irish politicians are getting behind an international campaign to abolish prostitution through a range of strict measures.

More than 60 politicians from Leinster House and the Stormont assembly have signed an international pledge to end the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking by targeting the buyers of sex, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

They have joined their counterparts in France, South Africa, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and Britain in agreeing to form a worldwide network of parliamentarians to abolish prostitution through a range of measures, it said.

Among the Dublin politicians who have signed up to the pledge are: Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, Fianna Fail senator Averil Power, Independent TD Finian McGrath, Independent senator Jillian van Turnhout, Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh, Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald and Labour TD Sean Kenny.

Denise Charlton, of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said that members of all the major political parties in Leinster House have declared their support.

"The strong level of support from senior politicians on both sides of the border to this international call to wreck the business model for pimps, traffickers and thugs is encouraging and a reflection of the huge levels of public support for such laws across Ireland," she said.

"Members of all major political parties in Leinster House have declared their support, this political consensus is particularly welcome ahead of the publication of the new Sexual Offences Bill.

"The Bill, which is due before the summer, will include sex buyer laws which were originally unanimously backed by the Oireachtas Justice Committee two years ago," she said..

"It is clear that the international trend is towards targeting demand and as a country we cannot afford to fall behind and risk becoming a soft target for prostitution, sex trafficking and organised crime," she said.

Ms Charlton pointed out that in June, Northern Ireland will outlaw the purchase of sex.

"It is important now that the legislation here is published swiftly by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald," Ms Charlton said.

Goal

"Together with over 70 partner organisations of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign we will be working in the weeks ahead to secure that goal and ensure that after years of debate and research that the law finally becomes a reality," she added.

The pledge signed by the politicians was organised by a number of international organisations including the European Women's Lobby.

Politicians from different countries are demanding that national legislations and public policies be harmonised, in order to abolish prostitution.

This includes "resolutely and systematically opposing the pimping and trafficking in human beings."

The aim is to move towards having a concerted and joint action at regional and international levels.

fdillon@herald.ie

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