LEADING writers were among prominent men who yesterday lent their support to a campaign to change the law so that men who pay for sex are prosecuted rather than prostitutes.
Turnoffthelight.ie, an alliance of 30 groups, is campaigning for reform of Ireland's vice laws.
Yesterday, a panel of high profile Irish men backed the campaign to criminalise the purchase of sex to combat exploitation of women and young children, as part of a clampdown on prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland.
The men, who included poet Theo Dorgan, writer Peter Sheridan, Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay and singer Christy Moore, called on the incoming government to reform Ireland's vice laws to punish those who buy sex
One-in-15 Irish men pay for sex and there are more than 1,000 women and girls involved in prostitution here every day.
The campaign believes Ireland, with a prostitution industry estimated to be worth almost €200m a year, can learn from Sweden and Norway, countries that have legislated to penalise the purchase of sex, while decriminalising its sale.
John Cunningham, chairman of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said girls as young as 14 were being trafficked into Ireland and 97pc of them working in the 'indoor' sex industry were immigrants.
"Men who buy sex might like to comfort themselves with the notion they are indulging in a mutually beneficial commercial transaction but the reality is that women often suffer enormous harm," Mr Dorgan said.