Brothel raids ‘target migrant sex workers’
2019-08-01 12:28:39 -
By Staff Reporter

Migrant sex workers in Ireland are overwhelmingly the targets of brothel raids, says a sex work activist group.
In a statement to mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Kate McGrew, director of Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) also said that Irish anti-trafficking laws “are often used as a tool of immigration instead of care and refuge”. 

“The reality is that in Ireland many more sex workers have been arrested than clients,” she said. “Workers are often asked to leave the country or face prosecution. This flies in the face of the care and the rights-based approach that the state is supposed to show.” 

The SWAI is urging the government and the Garda to stop conflating consensual sex work and trafficking in order to focus resources where they are needed most, especially in prevention of trafficking.

McGrew added that sex workers, irrespective of their backgrounds, could also be allies in the fight against sex trafficking if they were allowed. 

“Sex workers are the best placed people to aid in the fight against sex trafficking. Sex workers want to be allies, and we are best placed to do so. 

“But the law does not respond to the circumstances of deep poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, and drug misuse that lead some to becoming susceptible to trafficking.“ 

McGrew noted that “client criminalisation, also known as the Nordic Model, was introduced in Ireland in 2017 to protect vulnerable people in sex work, but instead, the most vulnerable sex workers are more at risk of violence and exploitation. 

“Criminalisation of any aspect of sex work drives sex work underground which means more difficulty finding those vulnerable to exploitation, including trafficking victims.

”The Nordic Model has been in effect in Northern Ireland since 2015 and it has not reduced the amount of trafficking in Northern Ireland. In fact, trafficked victims are prosecuted there.” 

McGrew says the State’s anti-trafficking efforts focus overwhelmingly on sex trafficking at the expense of issues in general migrant labour.

“Very little attention is paid to the larger problem of labour trafficking in Ireland. This is not to minimise the very serious crime of sex trafficking. Decriminalisation of sex work would not mean that sex trafficking would become legal,” she said.

“Prevention of trafficking is better than criminalisation. If we want to help the most vulnerable in sex work leave, we need to have safety nets in place, such as access to housing, childcare, healthcare or anything that alleviates why the person entered sex work in the first place.” SWAI has also welcomed the conviction of a serial rapist who targeted Czech sex workers, who was handed a 20-year prison sentence.

McGrew said SWAI was the first contact by the sex worker victims and helped them report their rapes to gardai.
However, she added: “It is very difficult for victims of rape to get justice through the criminal justice and have their rapist convicted. It is even more so for sex workers, who are often reluctant to go to the police to report sexual violence.”
TAGS : Sex Workers Alliance Ireland SWAI migrant
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