Sex worker activists blast jailing of women for ‘brothel keeping’
2019-06-01 11:46:31 -
Human Rights
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By Staff Reporter

 

A sex workers support group has criticised the jailing of two migrant sex workers – one of them pregnant – at a Co Kildare court recently.

 

In a statement, the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) said the nine-month sentences for ‘brothel keeping’ at Naas District Court on Friday 7 May shows that Ireland is yet to leave its “dark past” behind.

 

“The facts of this case show the 2017 Sexual Offences Law is not fit for purpose. There were no clients present, very little money and no evidence of the workers being coerced in to their job,” said current sex worker and SWAI director Kate McGrew.

 

She added: “The change in law in 2017 was heralded as a law that would protect sex workers. But we at SWAI cannot understand how jailing two young migrant women will protect or rescue them in any way. Their crime — working together for safety — is not a violent crime and there are no victims.”

 

McGrew criticised the change in legislation in line with the so-called ‘Nordic model’ as not fit for purpose.

 

“This is not justice gone wrong, this is how the law was designed to work,” she said.

 

“Even those who support the law cannot support the prosecution of two women under these laws. We in SWAI feel this is an egregious waste of Garda time and resources. These are two women working together, whose apartment was put under surveillance by the gardaí.”

 

McGrew added: “We have a long and shameful past of institutionalising ‘fallen women’. The clear contempt in the way the judge spoke to and about these women is very reminiscent of our dark history of Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes.

 

“Sex workers want to be safe and we want to trust the state and its services in upholding our rights. But cases like this erode the already precarious trust that workers have in state services. “Next year, there will be a three-year review of the 2017 Sexual Offences Act. The Sex Workers Alliance will be calling for full decriminalisation of sex workers in the review.”

TAGS : court law sex worker migrant women
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