12-year-olds are working as vice girls
GIRLS as young as 12 are being groomed for prostitution, it has been claimed.
An investigation by the Tallaght Drugs Task Force reveals how there are 106 prostitutes operating in Dublin 24.
Local gardai are reported to know of 10 to 12 girls, aged 14 to 16 years who were vulnerable to grooming and reports a man giving mobile phones to teenagers in exchange for pictures of themselves.
"One girl was known to be exchanging sex for goods, i.e new trainers, and there were reports of 12- to 14-year-olds exchanging sex for money to feed their drug habits," the study stated.
Ten locations were observed in the report as being used by outside sex workers and soliciting activity was identified there.
The average age of women working in prostitution was early thirties and the average length of time women had worked in this area was nine years.
Of the 106 women involved in prostitution, 52 of them were drug users, of whom 47 were in drug treatment, 45 were intravenous heroin users (IVDU), and 42 were on methadone treatment programmes.
Two women were cocaine users who had started using at the age of 16. The report found that 70 of the 106 women were Irish and 33 were foreign nationals with the report failing to obtain the nationalities of the remaining women. At least four women were identified as being trafficked into Ireland.
The report is aimed at highlighting the urgent need for greater support structures for women affected by prostitution in south Dublin.
The Review of Service Provision For Women Involved In Prostitution In Dublin 24 also highlights the grooming of young people in the area.
Grace Hill, co-ordinator of the Tallaght Drugs Task Force, said she hoped the report would result in the creation of a Women's Health Project in Tallaght to mirror the one that already exists in Dublin 4.
"We are hopeful that this research will justify the need to start a pilot project in Tallaght -- we have been trying to deal with the issue of prostitution in Tallaght for over seven years," she said.
"The first step is raising education and awareness and then we hope to set up a clinic."
The Government recently announced that it is considering the introduction of legislation that would make it illegal to purchase sex services.
Geraldine Rowley, from the charity Ruhama, which helps women affected by prostitution, said it has been campaigning for legislation in this area for years.
"Criminalising the purchase of sex services is something we have been campaigning for heavily in recent years," she said.
"Ever since its introduction in Sweden in 1996 we have seen the positive affects it has had.
"Sweden is now the only country in Europe where human trafficking and prostitution levels have stabilised and are not on the rise."