A new RTE Reality Bites documentary, Paying for Sex, follows sex worker Kate McGrew and prostitution survivor Rachel Moran as they campaign tirelessly on opposing sides of a new law which, if passed, will make it a crime to pay for sex in Ireland.
Amnesty International is calling for governments to decriminalise sex work in order to protect the human rights of sex workers. For most people working in the industry, the push is a step in the right direction, but for others, the decision raises some concern.
For Rachel Moran, coerced into prostitution as a homeless teen, the introduction of this law is the vindication of years of campaigning to try to prevent other women and girls from experiencing what she was subjected to on the streets and in the brothels of Ireland.
Having convinced the government of the need for this law, she still needs to make sure it gets over the line and is enacted for once and for all. But Kate McGrew is determined to do all she can to stop this from happening. Kate views this law as a huge step in the wrong direction.
The Cork artist, whose mother is a retired university professor and father is a vet, campaigns heavily for full decriminalisation of sex work. She believes that the criminalisation of her clients will make her life and the lives of other sex workers more difficult and less safe.
Both women are equally determined and as the contentious law struggles to make its way through the Irish justice system, the programmes follows them on their campaigns, gaining unique insights into their extremely divergent experiences of the sex trade.
As part of the documentary we hear from buyers of sex, sellers of sex and victims of coercion into the sex trade, as well as law-makers and advocates from both sides of the debate to explore the highly contentious and taboo subject of “paying for sex”.
Also included in the documentary is Tom Meagher (husband of murder victim Jill Meagher) who tells why he has been campaigning for this law and explains the connection between his wife’s murder and the misogyny that he believes lies at the heart of prostitution.
Paying For Sex : Reality Bites airs Monday, October 17 at 10pm on RTÉ2.