Council calls for ban on sex slavery
Cork City Council unanimously passed a motion calling on the Minister for Justice to bring in legislation criminalising the purchase of sex in Ireland at Monday evening’s meeting.
The motion, put forward by Labour Councillor Catherine Clancy, on behalf of NASC, the Irish immigrant support centre, Cois Tine and the Cork based Sexual Violence Centre, received full backing from politicians of all parties and none.
“We’re delighted that the council passed this motion,” said Jennifer DeWan, Campaigns and Communications Officer with NASC.
"It shows that the Government will consider implementing legislative change in their upcoming review."
Cork City Council has now become one of the largest local authorities in the country to back a call for criminalising the procurement of sexual services in the country.
“It’s a huge symbol for the council to back the motion,” said Ms DeWan.
“It was also great to hear so many councillors recognise the work that NGOs like NASC do on the ground.”
Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry criticised some sections of the media who have depicted prostitution as a “lifestyle choice” and placed the blame for prostitution at the hands of governments who pursue “neo-liberal policies that drive women into poverty and into prostitution.”
Ms Clancy highlighted that in 2011 there were 57 instances of sex trafficking in Ireland, 48 of which were female.
“There is a direct link in trafficking children and adults,” said Ms Clancy.
“Every hour, 200 men are buying some form of sex in this country. A recent report in the Irish Examiner highlighted that you can stand anywhere in Cork city and be no more than five minutes away from sex selling.”
Ms Clancy also highlighted approaches in other countries where criminalisation had occurred as a “proven approach in reducing the selling of sex.”
Fine Gael’s Cllr Joe O’Callaghan commended the work the Gardaí do in “thwarting this insidious evil.”
“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
“This is a huge evil empire in itself and in some countries it is a mafia organisation. I want a message to go out that this state does not do slave labour, sex slavery or slavery of any kind. The state will root them out for the mongrels that they are.”
Fianna Fail’s Cllr Mary Shields called the current laws “soft” and highlight that new technology had resulted in a “new breed of criminal, more aggressive and cruel to those women being trafficked.”
Independent Fianna Fail Cllr Ken O’Flynn urged for new laws to target the presence of internet sites promoting escorts and sex.
“We have to look at our internet laws and start the debate on shutting down these escort websites and going after these people.”
Lord Mayor John Buttimer welcomed the motion and highlighted the “laissez-faire attitude” that exists currently wihin the law for people who procure sex.
“Similar motions across the country will help this become a mainstream issue.”