Wednesday 26 July 2017

It's time for a new approach to our handling of the oldest profession

Ireland should follow Sweden's lead and criminalise the purchase of sex, writes Niall Collins

WORKING GIRL: Tackling the problem of prostitution in places like Limerick city, above, requires new powers and sufficient resources for the gardai. Photo: Press 22
WORKING GIRL: Tackling the problem of prostitution in places like Limerick city, above, requires new powers and sufficient resources for the gardai. Photo: Press 22

Niall Collins

One of the most sensitive challenges facing gardai is the problem of prostitution and the human trafficking that accompanies it. New technologies and ease of travel across the EU have helped create a new form of prostitution reliant on brutal human trafficking. Prostitution on the streets is compounded by the proliferation of internet-facilitated sex for sale. All of this is primarily orchestrated by violent international criminal gangs who ruthlessly coerce women into prostitution. Tackling this problem requires new powers and sufficient resources for the gardai.

For example, swathes of Limerick city centre have seen a significant rise in the number of prostitutes on the streets over the past few years. They are overwhelmingly drawn from the migrant community who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Local businesses are suffering from the tarnishing of the city's image and the chilling impact it is having on night-time footfall for local bars and restaurants.

Gardai are struggling to successfully prosecute within the current legal framework and have attempted to use Anti-Social Behaviour Orders to clean up areas by removing recidivist prostitutes from blighted areas. However, these efforts have met with a legal brick wall, frustrating the work of the gardai in how to deal with the issue.

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