Ireland becomes the latest European country to adopt laws aimed at ending sex trafficking and commercial exploitation!
On 14 February 2017, Seanad Éireann - Ireland’s upper house – overwhelmingly passed the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015. Moving forward, sex buyers will be penalized while those who are bought for sex will no longer be treated as criminals. The law is a tremendous victory and will support efforts to end demand by making sex buyers accountable for fueling the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls, who are the majority of people bought for sex. The legislation acknowledges the high levels of sexual exploitation within the commercial sex industry and its links with sex trafficking. It also strengthens laws to combat child pornography, sexual harassment and to prevent the sexual grooming of children. Fittingly, its passage coincided with One Billion Rising, the global movement which this year was held in solidarity against the exploitation of women.
”Congratulations to everyone who worked tirelessly for years to get this law passed. We welcome its passage and the positive effect it will have on promoting human rights and gender equality.” -Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director, Equality Now
We would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of our partners - SPACE International, Ruhama, Immigrant Council of Ireland and the NGOs, survivor activists and civil society organizations of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign. They have helped to ensure that the Irish government upholds its obligations under international and European law and achieves a vital step forward towards gender equality.
Equality Now has been advocating in support of the ongoing trend in Europe towards this approach, which has proven effective in curbing sex trafficking. In 1999, Sweden became the first country to enact such a law, which legally recognizes prostitution as a gender equality issue and a form of violence against women. The Republic of Ireland has followed this example, as have Norway, Iceland, Canada Northern Ireland and France. The trend towards this approach is strengthening throughout Europe, as it is becoming increasingly evident that attempts to regulate the commercial sex trade through legalization or decriminalization does not make prostitution safer and instead increases sex trafficking to meet the demand.