Deputy Thomas Pringle today tabled his Bill in the Dáil to criminalise the purchase of sexual services, with a vote on the Bill to take place next Tuesday, where he highlighted the importance of legislating in line with the Swedish model.
“I strongly believe that prostitution is incompatible with contemporary values and that it is a serious social problem, which can and should be abolished,” he told Donegal Daily.
“In reality, very few women choose to willingly engage in prostitution, with most who are involved having very few real choices. This issue must be addressed – we must decriminalise the victims in this ‘trade’ and give them the option of rehabilitation, while targeting demand.
“It’s been described as one of the oldest professions in history, an ‘industry’ that can’t – and some say shouldn’t – be abolished. Everyone these days has an opinion on prostitution, the overall ‘sex industry’ and its place in society. For me it’s simple – anything that contributes to gender inequality and allows for the purchase of one human being for the gratification of another is not only unacceptable, it is fundamentally and morally wrong.
“I find it very interesting that Labour, supposedly a strong advocate of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign who passed a motion on this in 2010, was the only party or group that didn’t have anyone speaking on the Bill this morning. However, I am grateful for the support I have received on this Bill from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independent TDs, who have all displayed their commitment to tackling the exploitation of mostly women by targeting demand.
“I also acknowledge those who raised concerns on the Bill this morning and chose not to support it. But I find liberals who favour the regulation of prostitution to have a very distorted perception of what it is to be a liberal. When they choose to support legalising an ‘industry’ that profits from breaching human rights in a most degrading way, they are attempting to justify the commercialisation of the human body, something which should never be for sale.
“Legislation should always reflect the values of a country and right now bodily integrity is not valued in Ireland, even though the protection of bodily integrity is enshrined in our constitution. Gender equality is not achievable as long as women are for sale. Even in Amsterdam they are realising their mistake, and are now raising the age for prostitution to 21 because of the considerable illegal elements that remain there.
“From the years I have voiced my deep concerns on this and met with former prostitutes, this much I know to be factual: the sex industry is a cruel and disturbing place that is run by criminals, and the only feasible way to bring this industry to its knees is to cut off the demand.
“We need to send a clear message to traffickers and pimps that women are no longer for sale in Ireland,” stated Pringle.
Speaking in the Dáil today in support of Independent TD Thomas Pringle’s Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2013, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson outlined Sinn Féin’s support for a change in Ireland’s prostitution laws, as called for by the “Turn Off The Red Light” campaign, and supported by trade unions and a wide range of civic society organisations.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “We need to send a clear message to Irish men that it is not ok for them to purchase another person’s body. Support for prostitution is support for inequality. It is an insult to the promise and values inherent in the 1916 proclamation.
“Sinn Féin overwhelmingly endorsed the “Turn Off The Red Light” at our recent Ard Fhéis. We, as a party, can now add our name to the long list of organisations supporting this campaign.
“There are as many as 1000 women and girls for sale for sex in Ireland today. Prostitution is not a real choice for the vast majority of these women.”
He continued: “In countries, like Sweden, where the purchase of sex is illegal, there has been a massive decline in prostitution and a significant reduction in sex trafficking and organised crime.
“The ‘Turn off The Red Light’ campaign argues that the most effective solution is to tackle the demand for paid sex that fuels prostitution and trafficking.”
He concluded: “There is no perfect panacea to this challenge but I believe that putting the onus of responsibility on the user rather than the woman or sometimes man prostituted is a more humanitarian and I would argue Republican approach. We also need to ensure that those in prostitution are supported to exit this life and make a fresh start by a range of government services working together in an integrated fashion.”