Entrapment by gardai leaves a very sour taste in the mouth
Was the public humiliation of the men arrested trying to buy sex really necessary, asks Eilis O'Hanlon
Think of it as an early Christmas present for the National Women's Council. Irish feminists have long argued that the guards should follow Sweden's example and target men buying sex rather than the prostitutes selling the service, and last week they got their wish with the charging of 27 men in Limerick District Court with offences under the 1993 Sexual Offences Act.
Twenty-one pleaded guilty and were ordered by Judge Eamon O'Brien to pay the maximum statutory fine of €470 to a local charity helping migrants. Six others are to appear in court between now and February.
It was an interesting experiment, if nothing else. Previous observers in Ireland had little to go on, when arguing this issue, other than some dusty Swedish sociological surveys and the loud interventions of women's rights campaigners with a vested interest in finding the answers that they're looking for in the Scandinavian model. Increasingly, we're getting a chance to see for ourselves what it looks like in practice. First came a trial run in Dublin over the summer, which was deemed a success after 60 men were arrested and charged. Now it's Limerick's turn. Where next is the policing equivalent of a lotto draw? Men of Galway, Cork, Waterford -- it could be you.