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Over 300 victims brought here annually

JOY is one of more than 300 people who are trafficked into Ireland every year.

Most of them are women and girls who, like Joy, are forced into prostitution.

Traffickers can expect to make up to €175,000 from a young woman compelled to work in the sex industry, according to the CIA.

Victims include children as young as 14 and 15 years old.

Irish gangs have muscled in on the lucrative trade in people, which is worth about ¤23.8bn a year worldwide according to the ILO (International Labour Organisation).

Our Herald investigation has uncovered evidence that Ireland is fast becoming an arena for human traffickers, as the justice system fails hundreds of their victims.

Agencies believe that Ireland is home to at least 300 victims of human trafficking at one time. But less than 10 have been recognised as such under human trafficking legislation that was introduced here in 2008, according to figures released at a conference in Dublin earlier this year.

One person was convicted under this new law for the trafficking of Irish citizens.

The man pleaded guilty and the matter was adjourned for sentencing until next month. A man also pleaded guilty to the recruitment and trafficking of a 15-year-old boy for sexual exploitation.

He was given a three-year suspended sentence, placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years and entered into a bond to be of good behaviour for three years.

The Department of Justice claims that the number of prosecutions is no indication of the success of their fight against human trafficking, but it seems to suggest that traffickers usually go undetected.

“It should be noted that the number of prosecutions achieved is not, by itself, a fair measure of the effectiveness of law enforcement,” a spokesperson told the Herald.

“Account must be taken of policing operations aimed at prevention and creating a hostile environment for traffickers and of co-operation with other jurisdictions resulting in convictions abroad.”

The 300 victims identified may only be “the tip of the iceberg”. Ruhama has found that sexual exploitation now affects every corner of the country.

As many as one in 15 Irish men are believed to have paid for sex at some stage.

The organisation believes that one of the reasons for this is the lack of appropriate legislation.

They are campaigning for new laws that would criminalise the purchase of sex here completely.