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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Up to 1,000 women are 'for sale' here on any given day

Published 30/07/2014 | 02:30

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The Coalition has been accused of failing to act on sexual slavery. Picture credit: Gerry Mooney
The Coalition has been accused of failing to act on sexual slavery. Picture credit: Gerry Mooney

UP to 1,000 women are "for sale" on any given day in Ireland.

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Human trafficking is still flourishing here a year after a Dail committee urged sweeping reforms aimed at eradicating sexual slavery, according to campaigners.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) said today's designation as the UN's World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is a timely reminder for the Government to follow through on recommendations made by a Dail committee in June 2013 that would criminalise those who buy sexual services and increase penalties for human traffickers engaged in sexual exploitation.

In its review of Irish prostitution laws, the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality recommended the Criminal Assets Bureau also be tasked with going after the profits of those engaged in the sex trade.

But a year on, people working with the victims of human trafficking say there are still dozens of women and children who are trafficked here each year to work as sex slaves.

Invisible

Denise Charlton, ICI chief executive, said the Justice Department cited 43 cases of human trafficking in the State over the past year. But because the industry is "so invisible", the actual number of women and children forced into prostitution here from abroad is likely much higher.

"There are 1,000 women for sale at any given day in Ireland," she said, adding that the number of those who are forced into the trade is estimated to be anywhere between 10pc and 25pc of prostitutes.

"Trafficking for sexual exploitation is one of the biggest crimes of our time, and Ireland is not immune, with estimates from the Central Statistics Office that human traffickers are part of a black economy which pockets €1.2bn a year," Ms Charlton said.

"As a frontline agency which has supported more than 50 victims of trafficking, we know the reality of the situation.

"Our clients tell us of grim shared experiences. Often sold by a family member for a few thousand euro, tricked into coming to Ireland with false promises of a new life to end up in a brothel, forced to have sex with about a dozen men a day."

Consequently, the council is urging the Government to adopt an action plan on human trafficking that would penalise those buying sex while protecting the victims of human trafficking with safe accommodation and access to legal supports.

Irish Independent

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