Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Galway has opportunity to help 'Turn off the Red Light'July 19, 2012 - 10:52am
After years of campaigning, the opportunity has finally arrived to put people smugglers, pimps and criminals operating a sex trade in Galway and communities in the West of Ireland out of business.
The Dáil Committee on Justice is now inviting people and groups to make submissions on our prostitution laws with a deadline of August 31. We hope groups, individuals and politicians from Galway will join us in seeking new laws.
These short few weeks represent the first real opportunity in years to bring about change and if we let it slip by it may not re-occur for decades.
We believe the core issue is to close a loophole in the law which allows payment for sex. It is a legal oversight which will come as a surprise to many people who may have believed that prostitution in all its forms is illegal in Ireland.
This loophole has allowed a sordid industry to flourish with those responsible trafficking women into almost every town in Ireland to force them to work in an ‘industry’ where threats, violence and abuse are an everyday occurrence. Often big events such as the Galway Races are targeted with women forced to work in the shadows of the festivities.
A quick trawl of the Internet, as well as the actions of the Gardaí, show brothels are operating in Galway. In addition official figures confirm that two-thirds of people trafficked say they were brought to Ireland to work in the sex industry.
Last year 57 trafficking victims were identified, of which seven were children, brought here to be sexually abused.
At the Immigrant Council we have joined more than 50 partners to call for an end to this abuse of human rights under the banner ‘Turn off the Red Light’. In Galway we have the support of members of Macra Na Feirme, the Irish Country Women’s Association as well as members of leading trade unions and the ICTU.
Our campaign has looked at the experience in other European countries and met with police chiefs, policy makers and victim’s groups right across the EU. Almost unanimously all agree that prosecuting those who buy sex is the only way to end the misery for their victims.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.