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Brothels blitz shuts down 28 this year

GARDAI have shut down 28 brothels in the first half of this year -- that's more than the number for any of the past four years.

However, Geraldine Rowley, from Ruhama, an organisation that works for women affected by prostitution, said the figures only reveals the "tip of the iceberg".

Department of Justice statistics show Limerick is fast becoming the sex capital of Ireland after the number of brothels discovered there overtook Dublin for the first time.

The figures also show that counties such as Wexford, Monaghan, Roscommon and Longford are now emerging as places where prostitution is increasing.

Ms Rowley has called on the Department of Justice to bring in legislation that reflects the current situation in the Irish sex industry.

"The last piece of legislation brought in to govern the sex industry came in 1993, when there were no mobile phones and very few people had access to the internet," she told the Herald.

"In these times the pimp would have to be on site, whereas now he can use the internet and mobile phone to co-ordinate his sordid business.

"At Ruhama, we feel that the Government needs to follow the example of countries like Sweden, Norway and Iceland by criminalising the purchase of sexual services."

She went to say that criminal gangs could set up a new brothel "within hours" of another being shut down.

"There is no deterrent to criminals operating in the sex industry, it's extremely lucrative," she added. "Their customers can just contact them on their mobile phones and move to a new location."





Cutbacks

Gardai across the country have been cracking down on prostitution along with dedicated gardai from Operation Quest.

However there are just two officers currently working as part of Operation Quest after severe cutbacks reduced their numbers from 12 last year, and Ms Rowley has now called for greater resources.

Brothels were discovered in 14 different counties so far this year.

That compared with just six counties in the whole of 2009 -- of which Limerick and Dublin accounted for 17 of the 26 discovered.

As of this weekend there were 664 escorts being advertised on one escort website, with 233 female escorts operating in Dublin alone.

hnews@herald.ie


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